Straw rejects Bruges Group’s plagiarism claims

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has ‘strongly rejected’ claims that the UK’s European Union Presidency emblem is a plagiarised version of the logo used by Eurosceptic think-tank The Bruges Group (DW 7 July).

In a written response seen by Design Week to the group’s co-chairman Lord Lamont, Straw defends the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s procedure in developing and selecting the Johnson Banks-designed flying swan marque.

Straw states that the design consultancy appeared to be unaware of the existence of The Bruges Group’s swan logo, adding that this is ‘perhaps not surprising, since it appears that [the logo] was placed on The Bruges Group website on 1 July’, the date of Lord Lamont’s original open letter. However, The Bruges Group has supplied Design Week with an example of its flying swan logo in print, taken from a 1991 publication entitled Master Eurocrat – The Making of Jacques Delors by Russell Lewis (pictured).

In his letter, Lamont claimed The Bruges Group had taken legal advice and he offered the Government an opportunity to ‘explain the circumstances surrounding the creation of the logo’ before the group would consider taking action against any breach of copyright.

The Bruges Group will meet on 26 July to discuss how to proceed, says Bruges Group director Robert Oulds. Any legal case would appear to rest on an assertion that the similarities between the two identities result from copying rather than coincidence, as Straw attests.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office maintains that all the necessary checks for visual intellectual property were performed with the Patent Office when its trademark application was accepted.

The Johnson Banks EU Presidency design was first revealed in February (DW 17 February) and has subsequently appeared in the media and on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website. In his letter to Lamont, Straw says, ‘There has been plenty of opportunity before now to raise any genuine concerns you or The Bruges Group may have had about the logo.’

The Eurosceptic group’s objections to the Government logo coincided with the launch of the UK’s six-month EU Presidency on 1 July.

‘The ball is not in our court any more. If the Patent Office or The Bruges Group want to take this any further, then we will respond to that,’ says a Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesman.

Sequence of events

February 2005 – Government reveals Johnson Banks-designed EU Presidency flying swan logo

1 July – UK launches six-month EU Presidency; The Bruges Group co-chairman Lord Lamont writes to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw highlighting ‘logo embarrassment’

12 July – Jack Straw responds, rejecting suggestions of breach of copyright

26 July – The Bruges Group due to meet to consider next course of action

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