THE OLYMPIC RINGS MYSTERY

There was a time when Wham-O used the trademarked Olympic Ring label on their Professional (Pro) model. The Mini Frisbee was made to resemble the Pro and also had an Olympic Ring label. It was released in November 1967, a month before Wham-O was granted a patent. Some Mini Frisbees are marked "Pat. Pend.". It is assumed that the PP Minis were made before 26 Dec 1967, the day the patent was granted. All other Minis have the patent number embossed on the under side.

At some point, Wham-O changed the Olympic trademarked 3-over-2 rings to 2-over-3 rings. The common belief is that the Olympic Committee made Wham-O stop using their trademark. That may be true, but I can find no record of a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against Wham-O. Perhaps a letter from the Olympic lawyers was all it took, but the labels were changed, at least in the US. Wham-O continued to produce the trademarked ring labels on Minis through Li'l Beaver Toys and Trucks, a subsidiary of Irwin Toys in Canada. Irwin would later produce a full range of Canadian-made Wham-O Frisbees.


Every "Pat. Pend." Mini I have seen is either A or B mold.  I have never seen one with a 3-over-2 label (it should be noted that many of my Minis are in the package and therefore I have no idea as to the mold numbers and patent markings). That would suggest the 3-over-2 to 2-over-3 switch was made before Dec 1967.  But you can find Minis with patent numbers (made after the "Pat. Pend." Minis) with the trademarked rings. You can find packages marked 1968 with the trademarked rings.  Some of the US-made Mini packs have both types.


The Pro label was changed around the same time, but they went to a label without any rings.


If the assumption that the "Pat. Pend." Minis were made before 26 Dec 1967 is true, and if they all have 2-over-3 labels (also an assumption based on the fact that I have never seen one with the 3-over-2 label), it would imply that the label ring configuration change happened before November 1967. If so, why are there so many US-made 3-over-2 labels on Minis with the patent number?

If Wham-O was legally made to change the labels by the Olympic Committee, why did they move production to Canada?  Perhaps it was the US Olympic Committee that forced a change that applied only within the USOC jurisdiction.

With few known facts about the Olympic Ring label change, I am left with a mystery. What really happened and when?

 
 

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