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Olympic organizers go after business over name

A Squamish-based contractor is standing up to the Olympic machine.

A Squamish-based contractor is standing up to the Olympic machine.

Ted Brooks of the Olympic Valley Group (OVG) is digging in and preparing for a legal dispute over his company name after he was told by a lawyer acting on behalf of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) that he had to stop using the name by Wednesday (Oct. 27).

Along with using the word Olympic, Brooks uses a flaming torch as the company logo. VANOC wants him to stop using the logo and they also want him to turn over four of his internet domain names.Linda Harmon of VANOC formally asked Brooks in a letter dated Aug. 11 to stop using the protected Olympic trademarks.

VANOC's motivation for writing the letters and urging people like Brooks to step back from their names is related to the protection of the Olympic name and the value that name carries for sponsors of the games. She noted that for the games to be successful there has to be a successful marketing program using VANOC'S trademarked words and logos.

Tom Johnston of OVG spoke with Harmon in August and left Harmon believing that OVG would comply after the partners in the company were consulted.

Johnston said Harmon indicated that VANOC won't compensate companies that make changes.

"I have invested a lot of money into signs and advertising," Brooks said. "There's a lot of work in changing everything."

He added that when he registered his company name, he had no indication that using the word Olympic would be a problem.

Brooks feels that he acted in good faith and felt that he was doing nothing wrong by using the word Olympic and the torch logo when he decided to set up his company .

Following Harmon's letter, Brooks got a three-page letter from lawyer Bradley Freedman of the firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

The Freedman letter uses very stronger language on these issues.

"In addition, the use of various Olympic Marks appear to be a deliberate attempt to trade on VANOC's goodwill and to deceive, confuse and mislead the public into believing that Olympic Valley Group's business is approved, authorized or endorsed by VANOC or the Canadian Olympic Committee, or that there is some connection or association between Olympic Valley Group and its business and VANOC, the Canadian Olympic Committee or the 2010 Winter Games," Freedman wrote. "Such conduct constitutes statutory and common law passing off, misleading advertising and deceptive business practices contrary to the Trademarks Act, the Competition Act and the British Columbia Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act."

To date, no further action has been taken against Brooks.

Brooks said he's in too deep and changing the name is not a simple task. He noted that he agreed to long-term contracts and warranties under the current name.

"I'm not gonna fold unless they take me to court and I've done something wrong," Brooks said in an interview at his Queens Way office.

Brooks said that he came to Squamish from Calgary after learning that there was a lack of skilled trades people in the area. He brought his family to Squamish and he started working for an established local contractor. Brooks decided to strike out on his own shortly after coming to Squamish.

Brooks also feels that the community did not embrace his company and the action by VANOC makes his attempts to run a successful company even more difficult.

"The town has done nothing to help," Brooks said. "If this town is not behind me and VANOC isn't behind me, why should I stay?

"They could force me to leave town and I'll put a sign in the window that says 'see VANOC'."

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