Brands want to appeal to a broad audience. For that reason, most of the brands stay neutral in political matters. But what if your logo is used in a political campaign? And especially one you do not support?
In the Brexit-campaign supporters of a Brexit used several logo’s of companies like Unilever, Nissan and Toyota, arguing that a Brexit will not cost any jobs. After all, these companies have already announced that after a Brexit they will stay in the UK.
Is the use of the logo’s allowed? The Brexit advocates have a freedom to express their views. And we know that this right stretches far. On the other hand, a trademark owner has the right of the exclusive use of his mark.
The freedom of speech collides occasionally with a trademark right. This always brings up interesting issues. What follows is an assessment of interests. In this case, the interests of the Brexit supporters and on the other hand, the interests of the trademark holder. The outcome is difficult to predict as all circumstances of the case matter, however, the potential damage for a trademark when used in a political campaign should have a heavy weigh.
Toyota and Nissan have already announced that they will take action against this use, also because they do not support a Brexit. Given the attention that their actions have gained so far, the first round is for Toyota and Nissan.
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