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Specially protected emblems and the Coronation of King Charles III

22nd February 2023

On Saturday 6 May 2023, King Charles III’s Coronation will take place at Westminster Abbey in London and preparations for this are well underway.

As with all Royal events, commemorative souvenirs such as mugs and t-shirts will be readily available to purchase, as will products such as banners and flags. Advertisements may also reference the coronation, but the creators and suppliers of these will need to be careful what Royal arms, devices and emblems they use.

A number of Royal symbols, cyphers and coats of arms are specially protected emblems. This means you cannot use them for commercial purposes unless permission has been obtained from the member of the Royal family concerned.

However, King Charles and the Queen Consort have agreed that the rules governing the commercial use of Royal photographs and official insignia be temporarily relaxed to allow their use on souvenirs marking the coronation.

In addition to this a specially commissioned logo has been designed which is free for all to use, in connection with activities associated with the coronation such as community and national events, publications, retail, and merchandising.

The logo has been designed by Sir Jony Ive KBE and his creative collective, LoveFrom.  Guidelines have been issued regarding the use of this emblem which include colour specifications and examples of how the logo may be used.

The coronation logo and photographs of the King and the Queen Consort are allowed to be used on souvenirs as long as they are in good taste, free from any form of advertisement and carry no implication of Royal Custom or approval.

What happens if a specially protected emblem is used without permission?

The Trade Marks Act 1994 states that:

  • ‘A person shall not without the authority of His Majesty use in connection with any business the Royal arms (or arms so closely resembling the Royal arms as to be calculated to deceive) in such manner as to be calculated to lead to the belief that he is duly authorised to use the Royal arms’
  • ‘A person shall not without the authority of His Majesty or of a member of the Royal family use in connection with any business any device, emblem or title in such a manner as to be calculated to lead to the belief that he is employed by, or supplies goods or services to, His Majesty or that member of the Royal family’.

If a person contravenes 1) they are liable to a fine of up to £500 and if a person contravenes 1) and/or 2) an injunction may be brought to remove the products from sale.

In addition to this, The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 also provides that should a person give ‘false indication, direct or indirect, that any goods or services supplied by him or any methods adopted by him are or are of a kind supplied to or approved by His Majesty or any member of the Royal Family’ then they will be guilty of an offence under this Act. The punishment if found guilty is a fine and possibly imprisonment.

Trade marks

Applying to register a trade mark containing a specially protected emblem is not permitted and any such application will be refused by the Intellectual Property Office unless it can be proved that permission has been given by The Lord Chamberlain’s Office to make such an application.

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