Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Living with those Games

A couple of items in the press this long weekend draw attention to the draconian laws protecting any trade reference to those Games taking place not only in the capital but also in various other places around the country this year. I'm not avoiding mentioning them by name because I fear the consequences of writing prohibited words, but as a small indication of how appalled I am at what small businesses are having to put up as a result of the event being visited on them. I'm also appalled, thought this is of marginal relevance, at the news that Chiltern Railways, usually the best in the country, were unable to convey all those who wanted to come to London to mark the Jubilee, and indeed had trains departing from their starting point already full and therefore unable to pick up more passengers along the way. Bodes well for later this summer ...

Anyway, there's a nice piece in the Oxford Times about a local baker who's providing bread for the benefit of spectators - who will be a captive audience for the official catering, as they will apparently be prohibited from taking in their own provisions. As the piece explains, the baker can't even tell anyone he's doing it because the exclusive rights to claim any sort of commercial connection with the event have been sold, for vast sums of money (necessary, no doubt, to finance the very expensive bureaucracy that is evidently necessary to facilitate sporting competitions), to a handful of sponsors with no visible connection to sport.

The Financial Times examines the position of businesses which already had That Word in their names. If they can show that they were using the name before 1995, they'll be OK, but in this age of data retention policies and expensive storage for old papers that might be easier said than done. The FT piece also suggests that not much is being done about opportunists who have added the Forbidden Adjective to their business names. No matter that no-one in their right minds would suffer a  moment's confusion: this is not a crypto-trademark law, it's a pretty complete monopoly.

I'm looking forward to several weeks of great sport - on my television. I have a feeling even getting to the office in London is going to be out of the question, and that is not going to improve my opinion of the commercial interests which have blown what should be a wonderful event up into a colossal, and - as the laws on the use of what should, except in very narrow contexts, be part of the great common of the English language, illustrate - ludicrous folly.

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