June 17, 2008
British RAF Strafed By Product Naming and Branding Laws; Red Baron Laughs
Britain’s Ministry of Defense is threatening to sue a UK retailer for using the Royal Air Force (RAF) logo, referred to as a roundel, on a set of boys’ linen. This easily recognizable symbol has been used at least once before by members of the early sixties Mod movement.
It is interesting to note that the term Mod does not come from the acronym for the Ministry of Defense (MoD), but instead is derived from the term Modernism, which reinstated itself as Modism.
Even Snoopy has used the symbol, as the RAF is well aware.
My feeling is that the RAF is going to lose this fight because their symbol is already very much in the public domain. Rock bands and fashion houses use it, cartoon characters use it, as well as video games. It is also pretty safe to assume that the linen is designed around British guitar heroes and not war heroes because the linen features pictures of guitars.
Interestingly, it turns out that the RAF can only use the insignia on “non clothing items” and the symbol itself, as any bi-plane pilot from the World War I would know, was originally used by the Royal Flying Corps (army) and the Royal Naval Service.
As a matter of interest, the US Air Force seal is protected by law from uses not specified by the Air Force and is a registered trademark that requires a commercial license agreement if you want it for your own linen line.
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