It might as well have been Borat, the ill-mannered, socially inept Khazakhstanian reporter, who wrote the letter addressed to the London Ontario’s city hall. Instead it was a representative from Lithuania’s government. The matter at hand? Respectfully requesting whether the Eastern Canadian city would mind at all if the Baltic Nation “borrowed” their logo.
What began in March as a request for proposal from Lithuania’s tourism department looking for a new logo, almost ended in an international incident when the winning bid, from a company called DDB Vilnius, who produced a concept called “Paprasta zalia” or Simple Green, was chosen. The logo in question was a tree that looked similar enough to London’s logo, that it solicited a letter from the Lithuanian representative requesting permission to adopt it as their own.
The mayor’s office responded, stating that Lithuania’s use of the logo would be considered copyright infringement and in true Canadian style apologized for this unfortunate situation. Legally though, apart from registering the logo around the world, there is not much London can do if Lithuania chooses to adopt London’s tree to represent the country’s tourism industry.
Meanwhile, London has been accused of not having the right to reject Lithuania’s request to use the logo, as they may not even be the original owners. The originator of the tree concept? The Jewish National Fund and the man who created it for them named Abram Games, a celebrated British illustrator and graphic designer who’s work is essentially a record of the era’s social history. The only difference between Games’ logo and London’s logo is the Star of David in the middle of it.
London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best understands Lithuania’s attraction to London’s logo. “It’s worked well for us,” she says. Perhaps it should, it was designed by one of the most respected graphic designers of the 20th century.