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USOC Attacks Ravelry: a copy of the cease and desist letter for those that are not on Ravelry June 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — julimonkey @ 4:49 pm

Here is a copy of the letter sent to Casey Forbes of Ravelry.com The original post can be seen here by members http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/for-the-love-of-ravelry/2189293/1-25 (but if you aren’t a member and you knit or crochet or have a twisted sense of humor, you should join. They are awesome)

Dear Mr. Forbes,

In March 14, 2011, my colleague, Carol Gross, corresponded with your attorney, Craig Selmach [sic], in regard to a pin listed as the “2010 Ravelympic Badge of Glory.”  At that time, she explained that the use of RAVELYMPIC infringed upon the USOC’s intellectual property rights, and you kindly removed the pin from the website.  I was hoping to close our file on this matter, but upon further review of your website, I found more infringing content.

By way of review, the USOC is a non-profit corporation chartered by Congress to coordinate, promote and govern all international amateur athletic activities in the United States.  The USOC therefore is responsible for training, entering and underwriting U.S. Teams in the Olympic Games.  Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts.  Therefore, in order to fulfill our responsibilities without the need for federal funding, Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to use and control the commercial use of the word OLYMPIC a and any simulation or combination thereof in the United States, as well as the OLYMPIC SYMBOL.  See the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”).  (A copy of the relevant portion of the Act is enclosed for your convenience.)  The Act prohibits the unauthorized use of the Olympic Symbol or the mark OLYMPIC and derivations thereof for any commercial purpose or for any competition, such as the one organized through your website.  See 36 U.S.C. §220506(c).  The USOC primarily relies on legitimate sponsorship fees and licensing revenues to support U.S. Olympic athletes and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games.  Other companies, like Nike and Ralph Lauren, have paid substantial sums for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships support the U.S. Olympic Team.  Therefore, it is important that we restrict the use of Olympic marks and protect the rights of companies who financially support Team USA.

In addition to the protections of the Act discussed above, the USOC also owns numerous trademark registration that include the mark OLYMPIC. These marks therefore are protected under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq. Thus, Ravelry.com’s unauthorized use of the mark OLYMPIC or derivations thereof, such as RAVELYMPICS, may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of our famous trademarks.

The USOC would like to settle this matter on an amicable basis. However, we must request the following actions be taken.

1.  Changing the name of the event, the “Ravelympics.”;  The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them.  For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career.  Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes.  The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States.  Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect.  We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

It looks as if this is the third time that the Ravelympics have been organized, each coinciding with an Olympic year (2008, 2010, and 2012).  The name Ravelympics is clearly derived from the terms “Ravelry” (the name of your website) and OLYMPICS, making RAVELYMPICS a simulation of the mark OLYMPIC tending to falsely suggest a connection to the Olympic Movement.  Thus, the use of RAVELYMPICS is prohibited by the Act.  Knowing this, we are sure that you can appreciate the need for you to re-name the event, to something like the Ravelry Games.

1.  Removal of Olympic Symbols in patterns, projects, etc.   As stated before, the USOC receives no funding from the government to support this country’s Olympic athletes.  The USOC relies upon official licensing and sponsorship fees to raise the funds necessary to fulfill its mission. Therefore, the USOC reserves use of Olympic terminology and trademarks to our official sponsors, suppliers and licensees.  The patterns and projects featuring the Olympic Symbol on Ravelry.com’s website are not licensed and therefore unauthorized.  The USOC respectfully asks that all such patterns and projects be removed from your site.

For your convenience, we have listed some of the patterns featuring Olympic trademarks.  However, this list should be viewed as illustrative rather than exhaustive.  The USOC requests that all patterns involving Olympic trademarks be removed from the website.  We further request that  you rename various patterns that may not feature Olympic trademarks in the design but improperly use Olympic in the pattern name.










Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  We would appreciate a written reply to this letter by no later than June 19, 2012.  If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at the number above, or you may reach my colleague, Carol Gross.

Kindest Regards,

Brett Hirsch

Law Clerk

Office of the General Counsel

United States Olympic Committee

1 Olympic Plaza

Colorado Springs, CO 80909


For those of you that are not in the know: Ravelympics is a fiber crafting event that coincides with the Olympics. Fiber enthusiast around the world gather together and participate in crafting events that test their fiber crafting metal and skill. They might be test of endurance or speed, but none of the categories are anything that would be considered easy. These people knit, crochet, spin, and weave while watching the Olympics and cheering their country on. There is great camaraderie, even among “competitors”, and it brings a huge group of people to watch the Olympics. (Personally, I wouldn’t even know it was Olympic time if it wasn’t for the Ravelympics.)


I have very strong feelings about the way the USOC went about writing this letter. It is insulting, “denigrating”, and nearsighted at best. I feel strongly that if they are truly:  “responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States.” Then they would hold up events like the Ravelympics as proof of how the Olympics can bring people together and create relationships that span continents. They are more concerned, however with how much money they can make.

Let me inform the USOC of something very important. There are 2 MILLION people on Ravelry. ONE in THREE Americans knit. (that stat doesn’t include the crocheters, spinners, and weavers) and the internet is a VERY big forum where we are given a voice. My voice says: I WILL NOT WATCH the olympics. Instead I will knit and watch something streaming or something from my own extensive DVD collection, so I will not even see commercials by your sponsors. I WILL NOT BUY anything from your sponsors. I can go 17 days without anything they have to offer. and once I go without it… I may very well decide that my life is better with out it. So much can change in 17 days. If you are a knitter, love a knitter, or think that this big brother attitude of the USOC is wrong, then I encourage you to do the same. Our voices will be heard when their pocketbooks are threatened.




2 Responses to “USOC Attacks Ravelry: a copy of the cease and desist letter for those that are not on Ravelry”

  1. J. Powell Says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with the letter. Don’t see the “insulting” etc. It is a legal document asking Ravelry to stop using the copyright OLYMPIC name on stuff that is being sold on the site. Apparently Ravelry was warned in the past, did take off an item that infringed and was warned not to do it again. Opps.

    If someone wants to sell Olympic whatever, they have to go thru these people to get permission, or they can be sued. That is the law, and no one can just do what they want without ending up in court.

    Don’t see the value of a boycott against Olympics over this one, sorry. It is their right to use their name as they see fit so it does not end up on something they consider silly or non Olympic in nature. This group has Ravelry dead to rights, has warned them in past, and I notice that the patterns were still up.

    Sorry, can’t see the value in boycotting the group. They have every right per law to use their name exclusively. Ravelry does not.

  2. julimonkey Says:

    Yes. They DO have the right to protect their “brand” (even though, let’s face it, Greece had it first.) They, are, however bullying people in order to do it. And frankly? I don’t like bullies.

    The part of the letter that is insulting is:
    “We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

    I’m sorry that my lifelong dedication to learning a skill doesn’t bring in big sponsors. I’m sorry that a mildly organized, nonprofit event where I hone my skill, and push myself further WHILE cheering on TeamUSA is “disrespectful” to our athletes. I feel that I must apologize, because while I can surely see the amount of work it takes to knit an afghan in 17 days, Surely recognizing that fact takes away from people that compete in sports.

    OF COURSE sports are more important than the arts. We’re told this our entire lives. The football team gets funding, The marching band sells candy bars in 100 degree heat so they can afford the uniforms necessary to support them. (Yeah, I’m bitter.)

    See, the wonderful thing about America is You are entitled to your opinion, as I am mine. Your dollar speaks as clearly as mine. If you do not see the need to boycott, then by all means, don’t. Eat your hamburger in full confidence. It is your right to do so. However, I am not going to vote with my dollar for a company that does not support me.

    I want an apology from the USOC. They can keep their claim to -ympic fame. Although, I may have to knit a Greek god themed project just so I can name it “Olympic”. It isn’t and never was about the name.

    The squabbling over the name, when it is clear that ravelympics and olympics are not the same event, is just petty and silly. What it is about is the fact that the big bully came to our playground to push us down and tell us how much we suck compared to them. That I am not okay with. That I will always stand up against. Just call me Julimonkey: protector of the downtrodden.

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