Oak trees and Olympic rings

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Arthur Radburn
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Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Arthur Radburn » 27 Jun 2019, 19:29

Saw this on York Herald's twitter feed today : the arms of Lady Mary Peters LG CH DBE. This appears to be draft artwork. The final version should be impressive, with the Garter around the lozenge and the CH and DBE below it.

Lady Mary Peters.png

As the interlaced rings indicate, Lady Mary is an Olympic gold medallist.
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Chris Green
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Chris Green » 27 Jun 2019, 21:32

I hope she got the IOC's approval. They are very jealous of their rights to the rings.
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Arthur Radburn » 28 Jun 2019, 12:38

That's an interesting point. The College would surely have checked up on that. But, for the sake of discussion, if the IOC did have a problem with this, what recourse would they have? And against whom - the grantee or the grantors (i.e. the kings of arms, exercising the royal prerogative of the monarch)?
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Chris Green » 28 Jun 2019, 14:31

On further consideration, I think that the College and armiger circumvented, so to speak, any issue of ownership of the rights to the rings by having them in gold, whereas the Olympic rings are five different colours. Baron de Coubertin was very clear that the rings should be of different colours.

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JMcMillan
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby JMcMillan » 29 Jun 2019, 14:11

Arthur Radburn wrote:That's an interesting point. The College would surely have checked up on that. But, for the sake of discussion, if the IOC did have a problem with this, what recourse would they have? And against whom - the grantee or the grantors (i.e. the kings of arms, exercising the royal prerogative of the monarch)?


As far as I can tell, the Olympic rings are protected in the UK by various treaties governing trademarks as well as several domestic and EU acts, notably including the Olympic Symbol etc (Protection) Act 1995. What all of these appear to have in common is that, to infringe the IOC and national Olympic committee's rights, the use of the rings must somehow be connected to trade or some other kind of financial gain.

This would seem to exempt Lady Mary from any culpability, but if the IOC or the British Olympic Association wanted to get nasty--and they've gotten nasty over far less-- I can easily imagine an action against the kings of arms for having sold a product bearing the Olympic symbol without a license. (Of course, this presumes that they didn't get permission; if they did the entire matter is moot.) The recourse for the IOC/BOA would be a lawsuit, presumably in the Civil Division of the High Court. It would be interesting to see if the judges (and jury, if there were one) would accept the likely defense, that somehow granting someone an exclusive right to a piece of intellectual property--a coat of arms--in exchange for the payment of several thousand pounds is not a commercial transaction.

As for asserting that an exercise of the royal prerogative is immune from oversight by the common law courts: it didn't work for James I and it wouldn't work for the kings of arms.

(P.S. The IOC and national committees seem just as assiduous about fighting monochrome representation of the rings as full-color ones.)
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Arthur Radburn » 30 Jun 2019, 13:36

A lawsuit like that would certainly be something for the record books. I wonder if the kings of arms have ever been defendants in a court case.

According to the IOC website, the Olympic Charter provides for monochrome as well as five-colour versions of the symbol :

"The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions (the Olympic rings), used alone, in one or in five different colours. When used in its five-colour version, these colours shall be, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The rings are interlaced from left to right; the blue, black and red rings are situated at the top, the yellow and green rings at the bottom in accordance with the following graphic reproduction. (Olympic Charter, Rule 8)"

But "used alone". In Lady Mary's arms, the monochrome emblem is used in conjunction with oak trees, and the rest of the achievement as a whole. The Marquess de Samaranch, who was president of the IOC for many years, also had the rings in gold in his arms.
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby JMcMillan » 01 Jul 2019, 14:46

Arthur Radburn wrote:
But "used alone".


I don't think that can be read as a universal license for anyone to use the rings as long as they put something else around or next to them.

The Marquess de Samaranch, who was president of the IOC for many years, also had the rings in gold in his arms.


True, but as president of the IOC he undoubtedly gave himself permission to do so.
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Chris Green
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Chris Green » 01 Jul 2019, 16:33

True, but as president of the IOC he undoubtedly gave himself permission to do so.


And much else beside.
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Jeremy Fox
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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Jeremy Fox » 02 Jul 2019, 00:50

I am somewhat confused by the arms. Did, or does, Lady Mary Peters hold any office related to the Olympic Games, or do the rings simply allude to her status as a winner of gold medals? If the latter, then could any gold medal winner adopt a coat of arms including the rings in gold? And what about silver or bronze rings for athletes whose highest achievement was a silver or bronze medal? But, being an Olympic athlete is a great achievement, even without winning any medals, so could any Olympian use the emblem in a colour, rather than a metal? ?

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Re: Oak trees and Olympic rings

Postby Chris Green » 02 Jul 2019, 06:39

Jeremy: You would have to ask the College of Arms what their thinking was in agreeing to the use of the Olympic rings. Your point is, at heart, a valid one, though I doubt if any winner of a bronze medal would be allowed the inclusion of the Olympic rings (and bronze isn't an heraldic tincture - though the odd example does I think exist).

Mary Peters won only one Olympic gold, in 1972 and was never an IOC functionary.
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