Charles Russell has secured a popular victory for Irish bookmakers Paddy Power after Olympics organisers LOCOG backed down over an advert campaign.
Head of contentious IP Mary Bagnall, along with corporate and commercial partner and sports specialist Ian Lynam, were instructed to seek an interim High Court order against LOCOG to stop its “We Hear You” billboard and newspaper ads being removed (25 July 2012).
In a case that developed quickly amid a storm of publicity, LOCOG initially told billboard company JCDecaux to take down the Paddy Power posters. The Charles Russell team reacted by preparing a High Court claim and instructing Monckton Chambers’ Paul Harris QC.
A Paddy Power spokesman accused the London 2012 organisation of having its “priorities upside-down” and pledged to fight the case in the “interest of our customers and common sense”.
Paddy Power argued the adverts, which said, “Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year! There you go, we said it” were not in breach of the strict LOCOG rules as they referred to an egg and spoon race in a small French town called London.
LOCOG issued a statement later in the afternoon, saying: “”We can take a joke, but as you would expect we had to draw the line at the provocative references to LOCOG. We also have a responsibility to ensure that no-one thinks betting companies have any sort of official connection to London 2012.”
Shortly after, Paddy Power released a second statement saying that after talks with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – which was instructed for LOCOG as the sole legal services provider to the Games (11 June 2012) – LOCOG had made a “gold medal winning U-turn”.
The Lawyer understands a junior member of the Charles Russell team was heading to the High Court to file the claim when the firm got the call that LOCOG had backed down.
A spokesman for the bookmakers said it would seek to recover legal costs to donate to grassroots sports initiatives.
This morning LOCOG issued a second statement. It said: “LOCOG has raised its concerns with Paddy Power and decided not to pursue the matter any further at this stage. However, we will continue to monitor the situation.”
There was further embarrassment last night for LOCOG before North Korea’s women footballers played Colombia, as the flag of bitter rivals South Korea was shown on big screens at Hampden Park, Scotland.