As reported by the BBC, the 2020 Olympic committee scrapped the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo shown above on the left due to allegations that the logo’s designer, Kenjiro Sano, used other images as the basis for the logo. In particular, it is alleged that Sano used a design by Olivier Debie for the Théâtre de Liège, shown above on the right. Without getting into the nuances of international trademark and copyright law, we’ll let you be the judge as to whether (a) the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo would cause a “likelihood of confusion” for consumers in view of the Théâtre de Liège logo (as is the central focus of trademark infringement in the United States), and/or (b) whether the Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo appears to be a derivative work of the Théâtre de Liège logo. It should be noted that Sano has repeatedly stated that he never saw the Théâtre de Liège logo prior to designing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo, and that the “T” is for Tokyo and the red sun was inspired by the Japanese flag.
In any case, this is yet another example of the necessity to consult an intellectual property attorney as part of the brand creation process. We recently published a blog post addressing this very issue, highlighting three questions that every business owner should ask his/her creative agency partner when coming up with a new brand and/or design.
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