BAT stubs out Lucky Strike design row

British American Tobacco has dropped all demands for design group and publisher Tank to halt the sale of one of its books.


Until last month, BAT insisted that Tank’s cover of Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Undefeated overly resembles its Lucky Strike cigarette packet design (DW 17 January).


It subsequently ordered Tank to take action to remove the books from shelves (DW 13 February), but has since withdrawn all such demands.


The book is one of six minia ture classic novels in the series Tales To Take Your Breath Away, which are packaged in cigarette pack-style boxes.


‘Amazingly, BAT has just performed a total climb-down on the issue, dropping its initial demands to destroy the books and its later demand to stop manufacturing and selling them,’ says Tank founder Masoud Golsorkhi , adding, ‘This is a good day for design.’


However, the tobacco company says it is now satisfied that its objectives have been met. In a statement for Design Week, BAT says, ‘Our main objective was to ensure that production of the Tank book resembling our brand ceased immediately and that no other product incorporating the same, or substantially the same, jacket would be manufactured in future. And that’s what has been agreed.’


‘We’ve got a policy at British American Tobacco to try to resolve all disputes amicably, if the circumstances are right, and that’s what we have done in this case,’ BAT says.


Golsorkhi believes that BAT is making a moot point. ‘We have always told BAT that this was a limited edition book and would not be reprinted. Its last print run was in November, as was always planned,’ he says.


BAT would not confirm whether it had approached The Guardian about a listings Guide cover published a few weeks ago. Golsorkhi believes that the cover also resembled the Lucky Strike packet.


‘The Guide cover shows the lack of substance of the original claim – and it also demonstrates that it is difficult trying to restrict designers’ freedom,’ says Golsorkhi.


Tank is expecting sales of its Hemingway book to have risen as a result of publicity gained through the legal altercation.


‘We haven’t had the sales figures back yet, but my assum ption is that the argument with BAT has had a positive impact on sales’, Golsorkhi says. He calls on intellectual property legislators to provide clearer rules on resemblance, protesting that ‘current legislation is far too ambiguous’.


Tank is currently designing a second series of Tales To Take Your Breath Away.

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