2011-10-21 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

Donovan Richard Donovan Richard Donovan Richards has made it official – he intends to run for his boss’ seat in the City Council in 2013. Richards is currently the chief of staff for Councilman James Sanders Jr. in the 31st Council District, and has been with the councilman in one position or another since Sanders took office.

The announcement was not unexpected. In May at an awards ceremony honoring tenant leaders of local housing developments, Sanders said to those assembled, “Wouldn’t he make a good councilman?” after Richards addressed the crowd. Sanders is being term-limited out and the contest will be wide open. Richards has shown himself to be able to connect with people and address their concerns, whether working as a member of the councilman’s team or on his own. It is too early to predict what will happen, but this will be a race to watch.

Finally the organizers of the Rockaway Olympics, now the Rockaway Teen Challenge, are taking the threat of trademark infringement seriously. The Wave first heard about this possible problem in September. With the competition being organized through the 101 Precinct Community Council, there was a very real possibility that the NYPD would have to pull its support. The word ‘Olympic’ is trademarked to the United States Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee through the Amateur Sports Act, Section 220506 and the IOC charter, respectively. In September Denean Ferguson, the vice president of the 101 Precinct Community Council and the event’s project director, said basically the same thing she did when she announced the name change at this month’s Community Board 14 meeting, “If you ask formal questions you get formal answers.” The NYPD verbally and in writing requested that Ferguson change the name. Ferguson finally did reach out to the USOC which denied the use of the Olympic name.

So you say let’s move on. Normally that would be the next step, except there is still the matter of the use of the Olympic torch in the Rockaway Teen Challenge logo. Ferguson said she did not specially ask the USOC about the use of the torch and they have no plans to change it. It’s understandable that after a competition last year to select the best designed logo you would not want to take that away from the artist. But after being warned about it, a little Googling could have found things like the International Olympic Charter. About its symbols the charter states: The Olympic symbol, flag, motto, anthem, identifications (including but not limited to “Olympic Games” and “Games of the Olympiad”), designations, emblems, flame and torches, …may, for convenience, be collectively or individually referred to as “Olympic properties.”

Right now the word Olympics will be removed from the logo and Rockaway Teen Challenge will be put in its place. That brings us back to where we started, with the threat of copyright or trademark infringement. Hopefully the logo will be very prominent as we get into 2012 and the Teen Challenge. To have the approach of, ‘if we don’t ask, we’re not responsible,’ is shortsighted.

“Our mission is to get as many people involved [as possible],” said Ferguson back in September. She added, “We’re trying to get the community, on both ends, involved on different levels.” You can’t argue that that isn’t a worthy goal. So a suggestion; go back to the artist who designed the winning logo and ask him to do a little redesigning. There is no reason we should become the next Olympic Pizza. You see the arm of the IOC is long. Before the Vancouver 2010 games a small family owned business called Olympic Pizza, in downtown Vancouver, was asked to take down a sign on its storefront with its name, and the Olympic rings and torch as its logo.

For once someone has come up with a wonderful idea to bring both ends of Rockaway together. The integrity of this event should not be compromised. There is always a chance that the USOC or the IOC could come across the logo at the last minute, causing undue problems. Once this situation is resolved, then we can say “Let the Games Begin!”

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