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Olympic mottoes borrow lines from O Canada

Last Updated: Thursday, September 25, 2008 | 3:14 PM ET

Members of Team Canada sing the national anthem during medal ceremonies following their victory over Sweden to win the gold medal in women's hockey at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games.Members of Team Canada sing the national anthem during medal ceremonies following their victory over Sweden to win the gold medal in women's hockey at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Two phrases borrowed from Canada's national anthem have been chosen as the mottoes for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and organizers have already moved to protect the commercial rights to the lines.

The lines "With glowing hearts" from the English version and "Des plus brillants exploits" from the French version will soon be emblazoned on Olympic merchandise and promotional material as a national campaign to promote the mottoes is rolled out across Canada this fall.

The phrases were recently trademarked by the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee in anticipation of the announcement, it was revealed Wednesday.

"'With glowing hearts' is connected and familiar to all Canadians through our anthem, O Canada, and it also embodies what it takes to be an Olympic or Paralympic athlete," VANOC chief executive officer John Furlong said in a statement Thursday.

"'With glowing hearts' captures in a few simple, time-honoured words what it means to be Canadian, the deep pride we have in our country and who we are," said Furlong.

"It embodies the emotions every athlete will feel — no matter where they are from or what flag they stand under — when they have the honour to represent their own country on the world's grandest international stage in 2010," he said.

While the French and English mottoes are different, Furlong said they are drawn from the same inspiration.

"'Des plus brillants exploits' references the pinnacle of achievement and the extraordinary feats of human endeavour that will occur, both for the athletes and for everyone involved in staging the 2010 Winter Games," said Furlong.

No charge for singing anthem

Despite the trademark placed on the lines, VANOC said it has no desire to own the phrases and VANOC's use of the mottoes in no way changes how the national anthem is used by Canadians.

VANOC would only challenge the commercial use of the mottoes if a business began using them to create a specific, unauthorized commercial association with the 2010 Winter Games, said the statement.

O Canada is over 100 years old and, according to the Department of Canadian Heritage, is in the public domain so may be used without permission from the government.

The committee is so serious about protecting the Olympic brand it managed to get a landmark piece of legislation passed in the House of Commons last year that made using certain phrases related to the Games a violation of law.

The list includes the number 2010 and the word "winter," phrases that normally couldn't be trademarked because they are so general.

Vancouver organizers have already taken small businesses in the Vancouver area to court for using the word Olympic in their names — even ones in existence long before the Games were awarded to Vancouver — and have launched lawsuits against people who've tried to register Olympic-related domain names on the internet.

Hockey fans used to singing the anthem with gusto before a game or schoolchildren who sing it every morning shouldn't worry.

"That would not constitute infringement of the mark," said Neil Melliship, a Vancouver trademark lawyer.

"It just doesn't make sense. They are not using it in a commercial sense here, they are not selling something with that mark, they are just singing a song."

With files from the Canadian Press
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