London 2012 Olympic Logo copyright infringement
MICHAEL ST.MARK vs WOLFF OLINS
Claim. Copyright infringement of the original artwork Infinitude II, by Wolff Olins branding consultancy through their 2012 London Olympic brand logo.
…………………………………………………Fair use comparison content
……………………………….. the Artwork that Inspired an Olympics
………………… Sunrise over Infinitude II
( Acrylic-painted wood bas-relief on board, 60cms X 80cms )
c. Michael St.Mark 2006.
Infinitude II – a blank canvas.
The relief artwork Infinitude II was purposely rendered in white by the artist in order to have the ability to faithfully reflect an infinite range of colours and its jagged flat shapes (polygons) are slightly raised in order to cast shadows or to expose highlights; all according to variation in its ambient lighting, therefore potentially having a different look or version from one day to the next.
This completely novel flexible colour / border edition functionality was clearly documented by the artist alongside images of the work at the time of its release ( Jan 2006).
Extensive research indicates no published work exists within fine art or graphic design history prior to release of Infinitude II, that incorporates such flexible colour and border-switching multi-edition function.*
Two cropped areas of Infinitude II ( Jan 2006. Acrylic, white-on-white), in differently-angled natural light, its flat jagged polygonal shapes casting black shadows… to either side of the controversial London Olympic brand ( by Wolff Olins, cost £400,000 ) primary version identically white on white, its unmistakably similar jagged flat polygonal shapes ( claimed to represent the date 2012) bordered by black shadows and therefore obviously designed to represent a (3D) bas(shallow) relief form.
“… it ( the Olympic brand logo ) is a blank canvas.. ” – Patrick Cox, head of the Wolff Olins design team.
With its four similarly jagged flat shapes immediately surrounding an almost identical small central quadrilateral ( which, contrary to Wolff Olins’ claim plays no part whatsoever in representing a date of 2012 ), solid in appearance and identically rendered white-on-white in shallow raised relief bordered by shadows -and in some colour editions identically by highlights- the London Olympic brand logo closely imitates, in these and other basic key aspects of its design, appearance and function, both the general whole and a substantial specific part of the pre-dated, pre-published Infinitude II with such unmistakable cumulative similarity as to warrant initiation of legal proceedings against its creators Wolff Olins brand consultancy on grounds of copyright infringement of an original work.
Larger cropped segment from Infinitude II illustrating its jagged shapes’ variable shadow-through-highlight borders and the colour-change function absolutely integral to the work, as stated by the artist on its release in January 2006 ( pre-dating Wolff Olins Olympic brand release by over a year ).
Above; Infinitude II in natural daylight followed by two examples of the artwork’s broad visual flexibility, being lit by adjustable ball & socket primary colour spotlights as per the original design brief; allowing for a new differently coloured/ bordered version whenever desired …. followed by four ( from among many ) colour versions of the 2012 Olympic logo, its jagged shapes bordered by highlights instead of the previous shadows.
The unmistakably similar jagged flat polygon shapes raised in shallow relief of the pre-existing published artwork Infinitude II; identically to those represented in the Wolff Olins brand logo that shortly followed, have changeable shadowed, outlined or highlighted borders and overall the work has identical multi-colour edition capability, function and purpose.
Thus the logo’s use fundamentally duplicates the objective of the original ( Infinitude II ) and furthermore cannot be claimed to be visually transformative.
* Extensive research indicates Wolff Olins’ 2012 Olympic logo to be the first in 150 plus years of corporate branding history to have many ( including those assigned to Olympic “partners” ) colour /shadow-highlight editions and which just so happens to have been – rather incredibly- designed during the months immediately following the unmistakably similar-looking and identically-functioning Infinitude II was registered and published openly on the worldwide web with eminently accessible art & design tags and search links. ( Eg. LD Infinitude II archive stat’s for month of June 2006 – 2932 page views ).
Additionally, no previous logo can be traced from among many thousands over almost 200 years that uses flat jagged polygons outwith any known type face in order to represent itself in numerals or letters that deliberately manifest border shadow / highlight switching through multiple colour editions.
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# “The jagged emblem, based on the date 2012, comes in a series of shades of pink, blue, green and orange and will evolve in the run-up to the Games. – Michael Wolff, partner Wolff Olins
# “This (logo) is the vision at the very heart of our brand,” – London 2012 organising committee chairman Lord Coe who, along with the committee, selected Wolff Olins brand consultancy as the preferred bidder without requesting viewing of any preliminary sketches, studies or early outlines of the logo’s proposed form.
# “Our new view of branding, claimed Brian Boylan ( chairman Wolff Olins) speaking in 2007, “is that the brand is no longer a single neat and tidy logo that you stick in the same place every time. Our thinking of brand has moved on. The brand is the platform, the brand is flexible, the brand is a place of exchange, and it is not fixed, so there is not one logo. There is recognisable form and recognisable communication and behaviour, but it’s not one type of constrained and fixed thing”
# ” Mr Boylan means the shape of the brand logo remains constant but its colour changes and its borders change between shadows and highlights in its many different versions. That’s what he means”.
– Michael St.Mark
2006 web post featuring Infinitude II along with the artist’s intent statement on the work.
New Dada Flikr gallery P.3 featuring the work;
Some further relevant links and extra images.
Section from artwork INFINITUDE II, alongside the 2012 Olympic logo transposed in 3D onto the torch.
(click to enlarge the compare)… along with image of the Olympic clock in Trafalgar Square that also features the logo in shallow relief as originally intended.
The unveiling in Autumn 2011 of the Olympic torch for the games revealed the Wolff Olins’ brand logo cast into 3D – confirming it was designed to appear in bas (shallow) relief and to cast shadows or highlights – identically to Infinitude II . Here we see the two together, with Infinitude II lit by gold light from top left – a similar primary light source direction as that onto the torch logo in this particular image.
“If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck … it probably is a duck.”
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Some further background history
The Sunday Telegraph learned that the logo was developed in conditions of such secrecy that most of Wolff Olins’s 180 London staff knew little or nothing about it, with the few given security clearance referring to the project only by a codename. Wolff Olins representatives are still forbidden from discussing the project
Patrick Cox was in charge of the design team, and was assisted by Sarah Stevens, project manager and included Michael Wallace, a senior designer. In overall control of the “brand project” was Brian Boylan, 61, the chairman of Wolff Olins who has worked at the company since the late Sixties.
In that time, Wolff Olins built impressive links with the Labour establishment. Sarah Brown, the wife of Gordon, the prime minister in waiting, started her career at Wolff Olins after leaving university.
Michael Wolff, the company’s co-founder, was credited with creating Labour’s red rose symbol in 1986, and in 1998 its representatives were called upon by Tony Blair to be part of a group of “creative thinkers” helping to “rebrand Britain” and create the brief, heady days of “Cool Britannia”.
Mr Boylan is also a member of the Tate Modern Council and serves on the board of the Government-funded Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. Mr Cox is understood to live in a £1 million gated townhouse near Primrose Hill, north London. His neighbours include writers Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller.
David Miliband, the then Environment Secretary, Peter Mandelson, the British Commissioner for EU trade, live nearby.”
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# “Let’s be clear: we won’t change the design at all. We are proud of it. It will go down in history. We have created something original in a world where it is increasingly difficult to make something different.” – Brian Boylan, chairman Wolff Olins.
# ” Let’s be more clear; Wolff Olins’ 2012 Olympic brand logo is a long way from being original or different. From all available evidence and in the public mind it is easily shown to be substantially and unmistakably similar to the pre-existing original work Infinitude II in design, appearance and function and we suggest that is what is more likely to go down in history.”
– Michael St.Mark, artist.
* Design guru Stephen Bayley condemned the Wolff Olins logo as a “puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal” – Daily Telegraph
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Wolff Olins have formally denied any knowledge of either Michael St.Mark or of the artwork Infinitude II, despite two emails sent to their London press office in 2009 and in 2011 specifically detailing both artist and the artwork and linking to the website featuring both. Intention to litigate on grounds of copyright infringement unless early settlement could be agreed was also clearly stated in both emails.
Thus exposing Wolff Olins brand agency’s readiness to blatently lie in this potentially reputationally devastating case.
Many modern design studios, Wolff Olins included, use computer-aided design (CAD ) in image manipulation during graphics production. A commonly used programme within this genre is called IGS or interactive geometry software, where the mathematical relations between the shapes in the design remain constant throughout.
In that regard, it was found that the areas of the “squares” featured in both the artwork and in the logo, divide equally into the sum of the areas of their surrounding four shapes, ( identical proportions); this impossibly remote co-incidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that the design team at Wolff Olins not only saw the artwork Infinitude II before commencing their design, but that they copied the specific lower part of the artwork into CAD in order to produce the Olympic logo, using the central “square” in the artwork as their starting point.
Boylan refuses point-blank to discuss this mystery square, or any other part of the brand, as if the public have no right to know. Any employee at WO found discussing the project faces summary dismissal from the company.
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Michael St.Mark is available for interview, magazine articles etc, media contact,
( If you agree with the conclusions of the argument and feel strongly about unscrupulous copying from artists’ and designers’ original works by large media organizations, please circulate this link – eg. Tweet or post to Facebook. )
LONDON DADA – kickstARTing the 21st C.
INFINITUDE II – THE ARTWORK THAT INSPIRED AN OLYMPICS
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* Post Script. Re’ Olympic Basketball arena, designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre..
From the WE website;
“Wilkinson Eyre worked with United Visual Artists, specialists in concert lighting and installations, to create lighting and colour
The Olympian silence of man behind the logo
Brian Boylan will not give interviews about his firm’s branding of the 2012 Olympics, but his predecessor at Wolff Olins steps up to defend a ‘brilliant piece of work’
The Observer, Sunday 10 June 2007
The following correction was printed in the Observer’s For the record column, Sunday June 24 2007
A list of quotations accompanying the article below included Ken Livingstone saying: ‘I wouldn’t pay them a penny …’ This comment, relating to the possible withholding of payment, referred to any potential failings of the company that produced the animated film – blamed for causing epileptic fits – if they had not carried out the appropriate health and safety checks governing the use of flash imagery.
One response likened it to a ‘broken swastika‘. Another called it a ‘toileting monkey’. Another said it appeared to be the ‘most unpopular logo in British marketing history’. In the past week almost everyone has had something to say about the new graffiti-like logo for the London 2012 Olympics – except the team that designed it.
Leading that team was Brian Boylan, chairman of Wolff Olins, the brand consultancy paid £400,000 for designing the logo that triggered early day motions from MPs, an online petition with 49,000 signatures and the hasty withdrawal of a promotional video that caused seizures among epilepsy sufferers.
The only thing Boylan has been remarkable for in the past week – apart from being at the heart of the biggest row to afflict the 2012 Olympics since London won the bid in 2005 – has been his silence. He has been offered a number of chances to clear the air and explain what the distinctive logo shapes really stood for but plans for an interview this weekend turned into another public relations disaster. Boylan is remaining schtum.
At 4pm on Friday Boylan, who was in Copenhagen, was due to give a phone interview with this newspaper. But 4pm came and went. An apologetic spokeswoman for London 2012 said she would try to get Boylan later, or when he flew home. But that evening she was forced to explain that he had pulled out for ‘logistical reasons we don’t understand‘.
Back in London yesterday, Boylan was lying low. The door knocker, an iron fist gripping a gavel, produced no response from his three-storey townhouse on an elegant terrace in Chelsea. An upstairs window was open above the whitewashed wall and a yellow Toyota car was parked outside the wrought-iron fence. Phone messages went unreturned.
Boylan, 61, has been chairman of Wolff Olins – whose big-name clients have included BT, Orange, Sky and the Tate galleries – since 1997 and has not always been so media-shy. In 1996, he criticised a new logo by a rival firm intended to attract tourists to London, saying: ‘It is a huge missed opportunity. It simply hasn’t got a chance. It’s the sort of thing you got in the Eighties for a charity saying, “We’re a corporation, but we’re quite soft and friendly.” It’s yesterday.’
A year later, Wolff Olins was mocked for advising Guinness and Grand Metropolitan to name their newly merged company Diageo. Accused of confusing Latin and Greek, Boylan responded: ‘When you stick them together, you’ve got to make a name. We’re not dealing here with an honours examination for Oxford. It’s a name, for God’s sake.’
Boylan is a member of the Tate Modern Council and a board member of the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment, a quango that reviews major planning applications.
Asked why Boylan agreed to give an interview then changed his mind, Alice Huang, a spokeswoman for Wolff Olins, said: ‘What we agreed with 2012 was we’d do it on a joint basis. It was really unfortunate with the logistics that Brian couldn’t plug in. I don’t know what the problem was. He was in Copenhagen and not able to dial in. We’re sorry.’
A spokeswoman for the London 2012 committee said that, according to Olympic rules, its partner companies are contractually bound not to speak to the press unless they go through the committee. She added: ‘All our supplier companies sign up to “no marketing rights”. They can’t market their goods or services on the back of the Olympics. Brian doesn’t want to talk today. He did want to speak yesterday [Friday] and I don’t know what happened.’
According to Design Week magazine, Boylan has urged staff at Wolff Olins not to get ‘despondent’ about the reaction to the logo, unveiled by Lord Coe, chairman of London 2012, last week. In an email that the magazine claims to have seen, the chairman wrote that: ‘It was inevitable given that 2012 were not able to tell the whole story [and] that we have not been allowed to tell our story, and the press is what it is.’ He added: ‘I am sure when the world outside gets to hear the full story the work will get the recognition it deserves and criticism which is informed and fair.’
Amid the criticism, Boylan has received the backing of his predecessor as chairman, Wally Olins, arguably the world’s leading consultant in branding. Now at the consultancy Saffron, Olins, like co-founder Michael Wolff, no longer has any connection with Wolff Olins.
He said of the London 2012 logo: ‘What’s interesting is that it’s so new and because it is new it is startling. This only happens when people do something that is so totally different that it’s shocking. I’ve been involved in this kind of thing on a number of occasions during the course of my career and almost always it occasions the same kind of reactions. People produce something entirely new that is very unexpected and the reaction is shock, horror.’
Olins still has vivid memories of what happened in 1994 when Wolff Olins created the brand for a late entrant into the mobile phone market, Orange, with the slogan: ‘The future’s bright, the future’s orange.’ He recalled: ‘Everybody said in the newspapers, “What the hell do they think they’re doing? What the bloody hell has an orange got to do with a mobile telephone? They’re off their heads.”‘ Yet Orange went on to become one of the most eyecatching identities of any company in the world.
Olins, an author of six books and visiting fellow at Said Business School at Oxford, said the 2012 logo is ideally suited to the digital age. ‘If you look at the website, it’s quite clear to me what they have done is look at what is going to happen over the next five years. The audience you’re addressing are kids between the ages of, say, eight and 16, and in a few years’ time they’re going to be 12 to 20. Those kids look at the web all the time, and what they look at is things that move.
‘If you look at that logo, at what it’s doing, it’s incredibly powerful and you can see everything from paraplegics throwing balls to people diving off very high platforms to people jumping to people running. Every time it moves it makes a very powerful display and it’s really clever and memorable. I can’t think of any logo that has that immensely powerful effect when it’s mobile.’
He added: ‘Where the criticisms lie, as it seems to me, are what happens to it when you look at it statically. The whole point of the thing is that it moves. It will appear year after year after year in all kinds of situations. Over the years, whenever you see it statically, it will remind you of what it’s like when it moves. I think it’s very imaginative and a very brilliant and brave piece of work, and if they keep their nerve there’s no doubt that it will work.’
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) did grant an interview with Chris Townsend, its commercial director, responsible for developing the brand with Wolff Olins to help raise the £2bn needed from the private sector to stage the Games, on top of the £9.3bn of public-sector funding for building the Olympic Park and venues. Townsend insists he has no regrets.
‘When I first saw this particular mark I absolutely loved it and recognised immediately that over the five years we’re going to establish a really powerful brand,’ he said. ‘It has a real wow factor. We’re all exceptionally proud of it, and we are just as proud today as we were when we first saw it and approved it.’
He put a brave face on the events of the past week. ‘We’re delighted with the coverage that we’ve got in terms of getting the recognition of the brand and getting the brand established in the minds of the general public. We knew it was bold, we knew it would get a reaction and we’ve been told by other Games committees around the world, from Sydney, Vancouver, Salt Lake City and particularly Barcelona, to expect this. Every time an Olympic committee launches its emblem there is this type of reaction. But the key thing is that our sponsors love it, our staff love it and our stakeholders love it, and we’ve had messages of encouragement from the International Olympic Committee and from previous Ocogs.’
All good arguments. The world is still waiting to hear if Brian Boylan agrees.
What they said
‘I wouldn’t pay them a penny. Who would go to a firm like that again to ask them to do that work? I mean, this is a pretty basic thing.’
‘We weren’t going to come to you with a dull or dry corporate logo that will appear on a polo shirt and we’re all gardening in it. This is something that has got to live for the next five years.’
‘I don’t understand what it is … oh, I see … it makes a rather pathetic 2012. Well that’s rubbish, isn’t it?’
Chris Bray, director, Logo Design
‘It represents the multicoloured vomit sprayed across the capital’s pavements at 3am on your average Sunday morning.’
Tom Lutz, author
‘A pathetic attempt to appear trendy.’
Philip Davies, MP, leading the Commons motion demanding that it be changed.