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Old March 4th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #1
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Using Royal Mail trademark in short film

Hi,

I have read quite a few posts on here relating to trademark usage; does anyone know about uk trademark law?

I've written a short film where one of the characters is a postman; I would like to imply that this character works for royal mail and film them emptying postboxes (or at least appearing to empty them) is permission needed from Royal Mail for this?

Also i need them to be driving a red post van (again it would need to appear that they are driving a Royal Mail van) I doubt i can just replicate their logo, does that mean i cant make a similar one?

Ideally i would like to use a proper Royal Mail van and i have contacted Royal Mail's press office but havent recieved a reply.

I'm not sure what to do next. Any suggestions?

thanks
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Old March 4th, 2007, 05:27 PM   #2
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You may want to contact the producers of Postman Pat. They might know the right people to reach. (Though, I suspect that they got permission before the Royal Mail was privatised - so who knows!)

http://www.postmanpat.com/Contact.asp

According to that link:

Postman Pat® ©2007 Woodland Animations Ltd, a division of Entertainment Rights PLC. Original writer John Cunliffe. Royal Mail and Post Office imagery is used by kind permission of Royal Mail Group plc. All rights reserved.
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Old March 7th, 2007, 10:33 AM   #3
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I would suggest that unless the royal mail brand is absolutely integral to the script, then i'm not sure it's worth bothering with the royal mail logo. From my p.o.v, 99% of your audience will understand that your character is a postman from his costume and props, and of course using the brand would be a bonus i'm sure, but i don't exactly think it's essential.

Also, if you do go for application to use a logo, then if Royal Mail goes cold on you, try and tweak the script so the guy is a courier instead?? haha might just work! and i'm sure CityLink branding would be nearly as effective!

Anyway, i don't know if that helps at all, just my thoughts!

Neil
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Old March 7th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #4
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I'm doing some work with EPA Energy Star. FWIW, they are part of the US government, which cannot own copyright of its works. However, the EPA logo cannot be used for commercial purposes.

http://publicaccess.custhelp.com/cgi...i=&p_topview=1

Of course, the Royal Mail's policies could be completely different!
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Old March 11th, 2007, 05:48 AM   #5
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i spoke to royal mail's press office, they said i could try and request rights to use the trademark but that it's not very likely it would be agreed

im going to create a fictional postal company instead; as Neil said, costume and props should get the message across to the audience that my character is a postman.

thanks for the replies
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Old March 11th, 2007, 07:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Webber View Post
i spoke to royal mail's press office, they said i could try and request rights to use the trademark but that it's not very likely it would be agreed

im going to create a fictional postal company instead; as Neil said, costume and props should get the message across to the audience that my character is a postman.

thanks for the replies
You could use something that is similar, a red van is 90% of the way.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 02:11 PM   #7
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I cant believe there is a lot of concern considering "short films" are not sold in theatres or tv. Now if one of these "short" films ever go anywhere which is extremely unlikely, then sure there's a concern. If I were making "short films....Id put just about whatever I want in it since I would never be making money from it.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 03:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Joe Allen Rosenberger View Post
I cant believe there is a lot of concern considering "short films" are not sold in theatres or tv. Now if one of these "short" films ever go anywhere which is extremely unlikely, then sure there's a concern. If I were making "short films....Id put just about whatever I want in it since I would never be making money from it.
It's critically important to own full copyright to your own work. You might want to use it in a demo reel as you move up in the world. And if you ever get a chance to license your stuff, you need to be able to sign that you have full authorization to use the work.

Sure, you might not make any money from your shorts, but if you don't have full copyright, you don't own it.

It's excellent practice to take the steps to own full copyright as soon as possible in one's career. That includes not ripping music. It forces you to find other solutions, which might lead to collaborations with musicians and artists that help form your team.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 06:32 PM   #9
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True....and you are right, I guess what I mean is that I wouldn't let much stop me from producing a short...if I wanted certain things in it and I couldn't obtain permission to do so. It is certainly good practice to attempt to do the right thing and "legal" thing regarding props, music, etc., but if this stuff would make or break my so called "short"....I wouldn't worry about it so much.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 07:18 PM   #10
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Another option would be to use a "similar" logo. People do that in music all the time. For instance Alf Clausen parodies most all the famous movie themes in The Simpsons without actually using the themes.

I'm a strong proponent of owning all of your work from start to finish - just because you can.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 09:48 AM   #11
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can i do that though, use a similar logo? the royal mail guy i spoke to said that if the view thinks it could be royal mail then i infringe their copyright.

if i go ahead and make the film, use the logo etc, then surely film festivals are going to want paperwork to say i have been given permission to use it?

I was just going to make up a fake company logo and have a sign made for the side of the van, "blah post"

maybe i could get away with just a plain red van, no logo?

also, the royal mail chap said i couldn't film my character "emptying" their postboxes as it would mean i was implying he worked for royal mail and postboxes are protected intellectual property.

so it looks like i will have to design and get a postbox made.

Last edited by Tony Webber; March 12th, 2007 at 10:49 AM.
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Old March 12th, 2007, 12:24 PM   #12
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...the royal mail guy i spoke to said that if the view thinks it could be royal mail then i infringe their copyright...
That's like asking a prosecutor if the defendant is guilty - the prosecutor will always say "yes"! Same with studio lawyers. Their position always seems to be that they own the rights to the universe.

Just because they claim infinite power, doesn't mean that the law grants it to them.

Looking at the logo, I would think that if you used angled lines rather than straight ones, change the aspect ratios, put a photo of a bucket in place of the crown, and replaced the text with a blob - or maybe "Loyal Pail", it's clearly a different logo - and a parody of theirs.

The problem is that there is no law book or legal expert who can tell you exactly where the line is drawn with respect to art. The only thing you can do is to make your best effort not to infringe, but also not to let them bully you into not being able to create your art.
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