On August 4, 2016, JUX filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) in U.S. District Court on behalf of Zerorez of Minnesota over the right to talk about the Olympics on social media.
Law 360 – “USOC Wants Suit Over Olympic Marks Tossed” – September 7th, 2016
Why did JUX and Zerorez initiate this lawsuit?
This is a First Amendment freedom of speech issue. We are suing to ensure the Constitutional free speech rights of U.S. businesses are not infringed. Threats from the U.S. Olympics have had a chilling effect on small businesses, silencing them out of fear of legal retaliation. Millions of small businesses cannot afford to become official Olympic sponsors, but that doesn’t mean they should be censored from talking about the Olympics online. Businesses should have a right to harmlessly post on social media and wish good luck to their local Olympians or talk about Olympic events. Zerorez is a small cleaning company who talks on social media about pets, sports, cleaning tips, and other topics of public interest. Zerorez wanted to engage in public discussion about the Olympics on social media. For example, Zerorez wanted to congratulate local athletes who are competing in Rio. The U.S. Olympic Committee is stifling the free speech rights of patriotic businesses who are excited about their hometown athletes and the Olympic spirit we all hold dear.
Why do we think we can win?
First, we believe the U.S. Olympic Committee is exaggerating their legal authority to prohibit speech about the Olympics in the United States.
Second, we believe all businesses in the United States would be served by greater clarity around what they can say on social media about the Olympics. A declaration from the court could give businesses relief from uncertainty or insecurity. We are not asking the court to let businesses deceptively imply they are Olympic sponsors, but we are asking the court to clarify that businesses have some rights to discuss the Olympics online.
Will Zerorez be flouting the USOC’s directions and posting on social media about the Olympics?
No. The U.S. Olympic Committee’s public threats have silenced Zerorez. Zerorez will not be discussing the Olympics on social media.
Which legal cases would you cite as part of your legal arguments?
Please see the court documents for the cases and legal authorities cited.
Has anything remotely similar to this ever happened before?
To my knowledge, there is no court decision directly addressing the rights of businesses to talk about the Olympics on social media. There are cases where companies have deceptively implied an improper relationship with the Olympics. This is termed “ambush marketing.” Those cases are clearly distinguishable from small businesses who want to participate in discussions on social media about the Olympics.
What other types of cases does Aaron Hall litigate?
We have deep experience in business litigation including shareholder rights, contract disputes, securities law, real estate deals, and financial litigation.