They all ignored one of the golden rules in trademark protection:
Don't be a bully.
Sure, if a large, multinational organization or competitor tries to profit off your trademark, by all means, threaten them with your worst and take them to court.
If it's a local charity, a cash strapped high school or a group of knitters, however, you might want to start with a softer approach.
Last week the USOC choose to send a threatening cease and desist letter to Ravelry.com – an online community site for knitters and crocheters – that included this gem of a paragraph.
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.The ravelers were understandably upset.
If you want to tick someone off, tell them that their avocation is not as important and doesn't take as much hard work as yours.
So now the USOC has to endure articles about their heavy-handedness in publications that include the New York Times, The Atlantic and Business Week, thousands of tweets and more than a few blogs like this one.
So instead of talking about the phenomenal athletes, the incredible achievements, the Olympic ideal, they've been forced to apologize where they managed to screw it up again.
Apparently common sense went out the Olympic door with amateurism. In whose mind did it seem like a good idea to ask the people you've just insulted to send you free stuff?