Irish legend says you’ll find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Only more rational people know you can never reach the end of a rainbow because it is an optical effect dependent on the viewer’s standpoint.
But there’s an exception to the rule: the UCI has trademarked the rainbow colours associated with the world championships. Any use of these colours on bicycle parts, clothing and more has to be licenced. Payment must be made to the UCI. A genuine way to find gold at the end of the rainbow stripes.
Here’s the official wording from the UCI:
According to the UCI Rules and Regulations, all rights relating to the World Championships, in particular the right to the rainbow colours, belong exclusively to the UCI…
…Any equipment bearing the rainbow piping shall be submitted to the UCI for approval before production…
…The UCI has registered the colours blue/red/black/yellow/green/white (‘rainbow stripes’) as a trademark
That is the trademarking which affects any goods in the world. In addition there are UCI rules which govern riders and teams in competition:
1.3.060 The right to the «rainbow colours» is the exclusive property of the UCI. Any commercial use of the rainbow colours is strictly prohibited.
1.3.064 Without prejudice to paragraph 2 below, only the current world champion rider may wear rainbowpiping on his equipment (such as bike, helmet, shoes)…
…Any equipment bearing the rainbow piping shall be submitted to UCI for approval before production.
I noted yesterday that Le Coq Sportif has a “world champion” range where each garment is a colour of the world champ rainbow but nothing was featuring prominent rainbow banding. That’s because only one company in the world is allowed to use the rainbow bands on clothing and it’s not Le Coq Sportif. Instead the UCI has granted Italian clothing company (and UCI sponsor) Santini a monopoly on the use of the rainbow jersey.
Indeed as the rules state, it’s not just clothing. “Any commercial use” is out of the question. In theory things such as the bands on your shoes, a helmet and even a sticker on your seatpost or stem has to be licenced by the UCI. The trademarking also extends to fields such as film and print, meaning if a magazine wanted to run a special feature on the World Championships it would have to check twice before running the rainbow stripes across the page. Even a former world champion can’t use the bands, except for the sleeves of their jersey.
It makes sense to protect the image, this is something unique to cycling heritage. And the UCI “owns” the World Championships, the Men’s Road Race is already the single largest source of income for the organisation thanks to TV broadcast rights.
But there’s a large amount of gear featuring the famous stripes as at one point or another – the Worlds were first run in 1927 – someone has won a title wearing the shoes, using the saddle or pushing the pedals of almost every major company in the cycle trade. The UCI’s move to secure the trademark is one thing but it’s hard to imagine hundreds of companies falling into line.