The 2014 Sochi Olympics have barely begun, and the first of the season has been filed. The Canadian Olympic Committee has sought an injunction against VF Corporation, the parent company of The North Face, for alleged “Ambush Marketing”. The COC claims that The North Face is trying to intentionally mislead consumers into believing that their new sportswear collection is official 2014 Canadian Olympic apparel. In late 2013, The North Face debuted a new international apparel collection this year aptly named “Villagewear”, which was meant to capitalize on the Olympic spirit (and of course, bring in cold hard cash to the brick and mortar active wear company). The North Face is using images and copy on the clothing referencing the 2014 Russian Games, in additional to using Sochi in the SKU names. The COC has been monitoring this situation for the past three months, previously requesting that The North Face remove images such as Olympic trademarks and Olympic rings in their merchandise.
Why is something as simple as national pride causing legal uproar? Companies like the Bay in Canada and Ralph Lauren in the USA pay big money to sponsor Olympic teams, to manufacture and donate all the branded product and be affiliated with national athletes and competitions like the Olympics. Additionally, finding, managing, coordinating and negotiating a sponsorship between a brand such as Ralph Lauren and the Olympic Committee takes months of work and can be endangered by the illegal use of proprietary images. The COC’s defense and legal action towards The North Face is their way of protecting their business interest as well as the interests of their sponsors.Read More