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BBC Creative’s new logo: Is it a trade mark?

Tony Brook and the team at Spin were recently commissioned to redesign the logo for the Beeb’s new (2016) in-house design team: BBC Creative. The results are very, very interesting.

Take a look at http://www.bbccreative.co.uk/. You’ll notice that there is a C-shaped polygon in the top right hand corner. All fairly normal so far. But have a click on a link or two. You’ll see that the polygon reassembles itself into a new and exciting shape every time you open a new page! The logo, if you can call it that, was specifically designed to be in a state of flux. One moment it’s Dave Theurer/Jeff Minter’s Tempest ship, the next it’s an empty pizza box.

For an animated illustration of this go to https://the-brandidentity.com/feed/bbc-creative-spin/. You will see that Spin have produced something that is capable of an almost infinite number of visual expressions and dynamic transitions.

If it’s rarely ever the same, how can it be a trade mark?

It used to be the case that trade marks needed to be capable of precise and durable graphic representation (Among other things). This is a problem in the case of complex animations. A constantly moving shape is imprecise, not durable in the sense that it remains in a constant state, and the different animated movements are fiddly to represent graphically.

The various trade mark registers within the EU all have very few animations on their books as a result. One of the few examples is Sony’s 2009 “brown liquid splash” mark: http://euipo.europa.eu/eSearch/#details/trademarks/008581977. It is expressed in a series of slightly awkward snap-shots. The movement of the animation is mostly lost, even though it appears to be relatively simple.

Spin’s creation is far from simple, and would almost certainly not constitute a registrable trade mark under this level of scrutiny.

Fortunately for Spin, and for all brand owners, the rules in the EU changed in October 2017.

The new EU rules pave the way for a whole range of new trade marks

Now any application within the EU will be capable of registration so long as it is clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable, and objective. No requirement of graphic representation whatsoever.

As long as the proposed mark can meet these criteria using “generally available technology”, and fits into a 2MB file or a selection of 2MB files up to a total of 20MB, it has a shot at becoming a registered trade mark.

In the case of Spin’s evolving dynamic logo this would still be a close call. Perhaps they might look to register certain sequences, and shapes. These registrations will be much easier to acquire than they were under the old regime. But they will still struggle to capture every permutation. Even if they did, they would have to show use of these trade marks in order for them to stay valid. This would be excruciating to document.

What this all means for you:

The gates are open to non-traditional marks and this is great news for designers and brand owners. It is time to start defining your business in new and exciting ways.

If you would like to discuss growing a non-traditional brand, we would love to help, so get in touch with our IP & Media team.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Categories: IP & Media | Digital Media & Technology

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