THE Duchess of Cambridge’s family business could be in breach of strict advertising laws covering the London Olympics after bringing out a range of goods to cash in on the Games.
It is a criminal offence to capitalise commercially on the back of the Olympic Games unless you are an official sponsor. Flouting the law could result in court action and a £20 000 (R255 000) fine.
Yet the Middleton family business, Party Pieces, is advertising on its website a huge range of goods under the headline Celebrate The Games, including Celebrate London bunting and balloons, a ring toss game in the Olympic colours, and multi-country flag banners.
Kate’s sister Pippa, who writes an accompanying blog called The Party Times, is also taking a risk with a piece entitled “Celebrate The Games And Support Team GB” which provides links to many of the items on sale.
And although the firm is careful to avoid the most blatant breach of the stringent code – mentioning the actual word “Olympics” – if you put Olympics into Party Pieces’ own search engine it takes you to their Celebrate The Games page, which could still be grounds for action.
The regulations have been brought in by Locog, the London 2012 organising committee, and are enforceable under a 2006 law drawn up to protect Olympic branding.
Locog has drawn up an inventory of banned words and can take action against anyone using two or more words from what it calls List A: Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012 and Twenty-Twelve.
It can also prosecute anyone who uses a word from List A and joins it with one or more words from List B which includes: London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver and bronze.
Its official brand protection guide says even expressions such as “Backing the 2012 Games” and “Supporting the London Games” are infringements of their rights.
Party Pieces, which is run by Kate’s mother Carole, is selling more than 100 items under its Celebrate The Games banner, ranging from 99p to £19.99 in price.
The heading includes a logo featuring the words Let The Games Begin in the Olympic colours, a woman athlete throwing a javelin and a Union Jack-covered torch.
Among the items for sale are packs of £1.99 paper chains in the Olympic colours of red, yellow, green, blue and black. For £2.49 you can also snap up a pair of “hilarious” novelty 2012 Union Jack-covered sunglasses, or for £7.99, an inflatable beer mug drinks holder.
The site also boasts a range of Celebrate The Games activity sets including a £2.49 ring toss game in which players attempt to throw hoops in the Olympic colours over an upright plastic stick.
There is even a £12.99 “stadium scene setter” – a banner that can be hung from the walls of your home.
The Olympic Delivery Authority has declined to comment on individual cases. But it is understood that most businesses will receive a letter warning them to take down the offending advertising at first.
Party Pieces was unavailable for comment.– Daily Mail