Ravelympics is run by ravelry.com (free login required), an award-winning social networking database for knitters and other fibre enthusiasts. During the summer and winter Olympics, teams cast on during the opening ceremony and knit throughout, whilst watching, the Olympics. It is good-hearted, good-natured, fiercely competitive fun. It motivates people from around the world to come together for a period of two weeks in order to achieve something where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.
The US Olympic committee take great exception to this.
Their lawyers wrote a letter to Ravelry – here is an edited version:
Dear Mr. Forbes,
In March 14, 2011, my colleague, Carol Gross, corresponded with your attorney, Craig Selmach [sic], in regard to a pin listed as the “2010 Ravelympic Badge of Glory.” At that time, she explained that the use of RAVELYMPIC infringed upon the USOC’s intellectual property rights, and you kindly removed the pin from the website. I was hoping to close our file on this matter, but upon further review of your website, I found more infringing content.
The USOC would like to settle this matter on an amicable basis. However, we must request the following actions be taken.
1. Changing the name of the event, the “Ravelympics.”; The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them. For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career. Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes. The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.
The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.
It looks as if this is the third time that the Ravelympics have been organized, each coinciding with an Olympic year (2008, 2010, and 2012). The name Ravelympics is clearly derived from the terms “Ravelry” (the name of your website) and OLYMPICS, making RAVELYMPICS a simulation of the mark OLYMPIC tending to falsely suggest a connection to the Olympic Movement. Thus, the use of RAVELYMPICS is prohibited by the Act. Knowing this, we are sure that you can appreciate the need for you to re-name the event, to something like the Ravelry Games.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We would appreciate a written reply to this letter by no later than June 19, 2012. If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at the number above, or you may reach my colleague, Carol Gross.
Office of the General Counsel
United States Olympic Committee
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
We can all accept that in this day and age lawyers are bound to get litigious around issues of trademark and copyright. But they do this to protect commercial interests. No commercial interests are served by the ravelympics. Ravelry makes no profit from them.
So let’s go back and read that again shall we:
The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.
So you’re threatening us with legal action in order to preserve these “ideals”.
We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.
You only need to be familiar with the Woolsack project to know that crafters have the utmost respect and admiration for the athletes competing this summer.
Knitters like bad puns. Is that really a case for legal proceedings?
Knitters are in the main, relentless perfectionists who think nothing of undoing three days’ work because they spotted a mistake in their cast-on row. The effort, imagination and drive that goes into some of the teams during the Ravelympics has to be admired for its sheer unrelenting audacity.
If the US Olympic committee can put in front of me one single athlete competing this summer who feels denigrated by our efforts then please haul me in front of a judge. I would also be interested to know how the athletes feel about some of the sponsors chosen this summer.
So that’s the background. What next. Casey, one half of the team over at Ravelry admits that the name should probably be changed. We can accept that.
We don’t accept being bullied.
So in my next post will be information about the organizations we can target and what to say to them.