The Olympic Committee just messed with the wrong old ladies

posted at 9:21 am on June 21, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Normally when you see the word “Olympics” around Hot Gas these days, you expect to see the word “Dressage” following in close order. Not so today. The US Olympic Committee has established a long and well-deserved reputation for jealously guarding their name, symbols and copyright perimeters and aggressively going after anyone they perceive as trying to make a buck off their corporate brand. In fact, the Wall St. Journal ran a lengthy piece during the last summer Olympics which details the various scofflaws they have shut down, including, but not limited to:

  • The Ferret Olympics (now called the Ferret Agility Trials)
  • The Nose Olympics (now the Nose Aerobics)
  • The Rat Olympics (Xtreme Rat Challenge)
  • Olympets (National Pet Games)

But now the USOC may have taken on a battle which they may come to regret. They’ve thrown down the legal gauntlet in front of Ravelry. Now, in case you’ve never heard of Ravelry – and if, like many of us, you spend all your time focused on government and politics, you probably haven’t – you may be wondering what it is. It’s an online social network for people interested in … wait for it .. knitting, sewing and other related crafts.

Lest you think this is some backwater story with no place here, Ravelry isn’t some collection of a half dozen old grannies in their parlors. They are one of the top ten largest social networks, boasting more than two million registered members and daily traffic which regularly matches – or sometimes vastly exceeds – that of Hot Air. And while you don’t normally expect a group of knitters to take up pitchforks and torches and go occupy something or throw tea bags in the Potomac, now they’re ticked off.

If you mess with the Olympics trademark, a cloud of legal hurt will descend on you faster than Tyson Gay in the Men’s 100 meters. Case in point: The U.S. Olympic Committee has sent a cease and desist letter to a knitting-based social network for hosting a knitting “olympics.” Now, knitters are in revolt.

2012 was to be the third year that the knitting social network Ravelry—yes, this exists and is surprisingly popular—hosted a “Ravelympics,” a knitting competition for users that includes events like an “afghan marathon,” and “scarf hockey.” Knitters were supposed to compete in their events while watching the actual Games on TV.

But that was before the U.S. Olympics Committee got wind of it and sent Ravelry a cease & desist, for making a mockery of the Games with their needlework.

That article covers some of the basic facts, but gets quite a few more wrong. It seems nobody at Ravelry was making money off the Olympic brand, nor were they “mocking” the games. They were encouraging their members to watch the games and knit at the same time, challenging themselves to exceed their personal best for the most projects finished while the games went on.

They also make another ironic statement toward the end.

The USOC is demanding Ravelry change the name to the “Ravelry Games,” but we say: Why not make knitting an Olympic sport instead? Pair up knitting a baby sweater with target shooting and make it the summer version of the biathlon. Those would be some Nike ads.

Why is that ironic? Because knitting actually was an Olympic event at one time.

Be that as it may, Ravelry is largely – though not entirely – composed of ladies… ladies who habitually carry sharp pointy things. And now they’re angry. So who is conducting the war on women now?

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…I think she posts here!

KOOLAID2 on June 21, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Nobody’s noticed the Queen’s commitment to gun safety. Is she getting ready for a drive by?

ScottG on June 21, 2012 at 3:07 PM

jbarkley on June 21, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Oh wow. Nice work.

Axe on June 21, 2012 at 3:21 PM

A sort-of apology has been issued.

Robin Banks on June 21, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Jbarkley – thanks for posting the link. I don’t know who you are, but you are much appreciated. For to long the McCain/Palin group that later changed our name to the Bunker that was on Rav. was maligned all over the internet. Many of us are still friends and stay connected, and we are joined by how we were treated on Ravelry (and our love of knitting). No matter what anyone says, Ravelry is chock full of rubberneckers, trolls and very mean spirited people. There are good ones there, but they are hard to find amongst all the rabble. Yes, there are a lot of nice patterns and if you join I recommend you stay away from any of the groups and use it strictly as a pattern library. Unfortunately, no one will ever believe that there are people on that site that are truly bad. I used to be in one group that had a 14 year old in the group (yes, there are members that young) and she was being torn to shreds by the rubbernecker group and the anarchist group and I can’t remember what else. She stood up for herself, but it was really sad to watch. Unfortunately, Ravelry is just a microcosm of our country. As for the 2M members – I don’t buy the number. How many of them, use it and then never go back because of how they were treated? Just a thought. There are a lot of other neat sites available that you don’t have to subject yourself to the treatment at Ravelry. They are out there, you just need to look.

MomintheFlyOverZone on June 21, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Well, if Olympets isn’t allowed, then I don’t see why Ravelympics should be, though it’s ridiculous that either of these should have to change their names. It’s not as though anyone would ever confuse them for the real thing.

Esthier on June 21, 2012 at 4:08 PM

As for the 2M members – I don’t buy the number.

There are 2 million registered user names, some may be sock puppets.

There are also two sides to every story. End of comment. I have yarn to play with.

Ygritte on June 21, 2012 at 5:41 PM

I wonder if there is Naughty Knitters site!

canopfor on June 21, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Well, canopfor, there is actually a Knaughty Knitter there.

revrick315 on June 21, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Well, if Olympets isn’t allowed, then I don’t see why Ravelympics should be, though it’s ridiculous that either of these should have to change their names. It’s not as though anyone would ever confuse them for the real thing.

Esthier on June 21, 2012 at 4:08 PM

It’s quite possible that the Olympets changed their name under pressure from the USOC and not from a judge.

Maybe the USOC isn’t used to push-back for their amazing ability to be pathetic.

Nowhere do I see that the strong arm of the Law is what forced these other events into changing their names. It appears to be cowardice and the inability to say “Suck it” that caused these other organizations to fold.

Spliff Menendez on June 21, 2012 at 7:12 PM

NEVER get large numbers of ladies mad at you at the same time.

Not wise.

didymus on June 22, 2012 at 1:04 AM

Ravelry is run by a bunch of left wing hippie wannabes: metrosexuals and Wiccans…

dukecitygirl on June 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Some of us are normal.

txhsmom on June 21, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Delete | Delete and Ban

Didn’t know you helped run the site.

dukecitygirl on June 23, 2012 at 12:49 PM