Skip to main content

MN carpet cleaner sues the Olympics so it can tweet about the Games

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

In case you didn't know – you can get in big trouble for saying the name of those games going on in Rio. You know, those big international competitions with the athletes? (Hint: It's the Olympics, and we can say it because we're news media.)

A Minnesota company is actually suing the Olympics for that reason, saying it's limiting free speech.

Michael Kaplan owns Zerorez – a carpet cleaning business in St. Louis Park – and he tells FOX 9 he's standing up for all the businesses that have been getting cease and desist letters from the U.S. Olympic Committee demanding the businesses delete any social media posts that violate the committee's trademarks.

How do you violate the Olympic Committee's trademarks?

It's not hard. Just use the word "Olympic" or "Olympian." Or use the phrases "Go for the gold," "Team USA," or "Let the games begin."

You can see a whole list of words, phrases, terms and condition by clicking here.

Basically, businesses can't use those words or phrases – not even as hashtags or retweets – on social media or other websites.

Individuals, news media outlets and official sponsors can, but there are still restrictions.

The lawsuit

JUX Lawfirm in Minneapolis says the lawsuit – filed Thursday – "asks the court to provide clarity to businesses who have been silenced out of fear of the USOC's legal retaliation."

The lawsuit – which you can read here – notes that Zerorez has not been posting about the Olympics out of fear of being hit with a trademark-related lawsuit. And the company is asking the court how businesses should go about supporting the event and local athletes without getting in trouble, and if the strict trademarks violate people's right to free speech.

Attorney Aaron Hall went on to say that this kind of censorship has a negative effect on the "Olympic spirit" and patriotism in general.

“It is ridiculous to suggest small businesses cannot reference the results of an event, congratulate hometown athletes, or use Olympic terms in harmless discussions," Hall said.

The attorney went as far as to call the trademark a form of "bullying."

A look at who's gotten in trouble

A Chicago butcher shop had to change its name after 40 years in the business because the word "Olympic" was in it.

German car-maker Audi got in trouble for its four-ring logo that could (almost) resemble the Olympic rings.

Even some knitters got sent a letter for using the name in a way that the USCOC deemed disrespectful of athletes.

Next Up

FWDqyh6UEAENgIG

80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.

290376311_5009722282489162_198055240351933487_n

30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Tab2FileL (13)

Numerous severe storms likely in Minnesota Friday night

Watch the video for the full details with meteorologist Sven Sundgaard.

court room

Teen pleads guilty in shooting death of 15-year-old girl in Columbia Heights

Damico Jamal-Tokyo High will receive a sentence in juvenile court, along with an adult prison sentence.

Screen Shot 2022-04-25 at 11.00.01 AM

Walz wants to use surplus money to send direct payments to Minnesotans

It's a renewed effort from a previous proposal from Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan's supplemental budget in January.

Ron Johnson

Jan. 6 committee says aide for WI senator tried to give fake elector info to Pence

The attempt was discovered through text messages in the ongoing public hearing held by the Jan. 6 select committee.

Stock U of M sign

Minnesota state colleges boosting tuition again by 3.5%

The Minnesota State system's Board of Trustee's approved the increase Wednesday.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, June 24

The next daily update will be provided Monday, June 27.

Pro choice rally

Walz, Jensen react to historic Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

After voting to overturn Roe, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas has hinted contraception and same-sex marriage protections should follow.

16362 County Rd 81, Maple Grove, Minnesota - October 2021 (4)

2-year-old killed in crash on County Road 81 in Maple Grove

The crash occurred Thursday evening on County Road 81.

police tape

BCA issues new details about St. Michael standoff, shooting

New details say a St. Cloud police officer struck the suspect with gunfire.

Related

Concern grows about environmental impact of anti-bacterial chemical

Traces of a chemical compound called triclosan are showing up in the environment and raising concerns about its potential to impact human health. The St. Cloud Times reports that Prof. Bill Arnold from the University of Minnesota, who is researching triclosan, met with river advocates and citizens in St. Cloud. He told them that the chemical is showing up in increasing levels in sediment at the bottom of the Mississippi River.