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AOC disappointed at Telstra court loss

AAP logoAAP 29/07/2016 Steve Larkin and Andi Yu

AOC disappointed at Telstra court loss © AP Photo/Felipe Dana AOC disappointed at Telstra court loss A court has ruled against the interests of Australia's Olympic team by clearing Telstra of ambush marketing, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says.

The AOC has lost its Federal Court case against Telstra over the telco's "I go to Rio" marketing campaign.

The AOC took Telstra to court over a series of television commercials featuring a revamped version of the Peter Allen hit song, describing Telstra as the "Official Technology Partner" of the Seven Network.

In a Sydney court on Friday, Justice Michael Wigley dismissed the AOC's application and directed it to pay Telstra's legal costs.

"Disappointingly, the court's decision in this particular case has, on what the AOC considers to be a very narrow application of the law, gone against the interests of Australia's Olympic teams," the AOC said in a statement.

The AOC said Justice Wigley found that "there could be no doubt that Telstra intended to, and may well have succeeded in capitalising or exploiting, in a marketing sense, the forthcoming Rio Olympic Games".

But the court ruled Telstra's campaign didn't cross a "fine line" by contravening the law, it said.

Telstra had been a long-time sponsor of the Australian Olympic team, an arrangement ended last year.

"To cover the high cost of participation, the Australian Olympic team is reliant on its sponsors and other commercial partners," the AOC statement said.

"Preserving the ability to send a team representing Australia to the Olympic Games is paramount and so the AOC will continue to protect its rights, as well as those of its sponsors and other commercial partners."

In his judgment, Justice Wigley said the "I go to Rio" campaign is "nothing more than Telstra advertising or promoting its relationship and arrangements with Seven" and "could not fairly be regarded as misleading or deceptive".

The case was complicated because Telstra was in a "sponsorship-like arrangement" with the Seven Network, the official Australian broadcaster of the Olympics, Justice Wigley said.

Nevertheless, any reasonable viewer would not be inclined to believe the telco was a direct sponsor of the event, he said.

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