Moving images are being trademarked in Britain for first time in 140 year history


For more than 140 years, businesses, brands and even pop bands have put pen to paper in the hope of creating a distinctive trade mark that captures the public’s imagination.

Since then millions of companies from around the world have claimed exclusive rights to unique 2D logos, words, specific shades of colour and even the smell of cut grass.

But this year, the Intellectual Property Office, the government body which oversees trade marks, has embraced the digital age by accepting moving multimedia designs, holograms and sounds.

A series of so-called ‘motion marks’ have been lodged as companies rush to claim the rights to digital film clips that are more likely to be seen on the internet and social media rather than as traditional labels and signs.

But while some of the first pictorial trade marks registered in the 1870’s were for British and Irish beers, it was a Japanese multinational technology company which protected the first ever ‘multimedia motion mark’.

A one second clip of the Toshiba logo surrounded by Origami-style folding coloured triangles made legal history after new laws were introduced to allow marks to be submitted through multimedia.

Meanwhile, the American internet advertising giant Google became the first company to register a hologram, featuring the letter ‘G’. 

Tim Moss, chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office, said: “Trade marks are likely to become increasingly innovative in the digital age as organisations explore imaginative ways of reflecting their distinctive brand personalities using creative intellectual property.”

A spokesman for Toshiba said the company was delighted to be the first to register a motion mark, adding that its moving image was more than “just a refreshed logo”.

British businesses, including a property developer and dairy food company, have now also registered motion  marks.  So far no sounds have been lodged as media files with the IPO.


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