olympics

Japanese designer refutes plagiarism claims in Olympic logo

53 Comments
By JIM ARMSTRONG

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53 Comments
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Ah, the Japanese can copy anything! The logo from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was quite cool (and original). They should have revamped it instead using the new one. Copied or not, it's still ugly and it's difficult to see the relevance.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

“I would like to take this opportunity to state that his claims are completely groundless.” Strange that he doesn't deny the fact that his logo looks exactly like the one from the theater.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"Tokyo organizers said they researched trademarks both inside Japan and abroad before deciding on the logo. The emblem for the Belgian theater is not a registered trademark."

Ah, so now it's okay that they plagiarized because it's "not an official trademark" design. The guy plagiarized, and now he's playing the victim, being all 'shocked and saddened, and finding it regrettable'. Sorry, but he copied it, plain and simple. You don't make something EXACTLY the same, with EXACTLY the same font (ie. not just with the "T" for the stupid "Tokyo, team and tomorrow" but also for the "Theatre do Liege" and "Tokyo Olympics") by chance. The guy is pathetic, and it has and continues to make Japan a laughing stock, especially when they claim the Olympics "show off Japan's innovation" (and even more so with the stadium debacle!).

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Somebody needs to learn the difference between "refute" and "rebut." Sano's whole argument that he'd never seen the theater's incredibly similar logo and that Debie's claims are groundless is disingenuous, i.e., a rebuttal.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

How is it completely groundless when it's completely identical?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

There are, to be sure, much more pressing issues than the friggin' logo. Can't we just let this one go?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

these organizers must have researched the design for about 10 seconds and said, "Nope, nothing like it on yahoo japan so it must be okay." But why in the world would you steal that design? it's one of the fugliest i've ever seen, excluding the sochi one which was horrific.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"The emblem for the Belgian theater is not a registered trademark" That says it all. Technically, the theater has no case regardless of emotions. Lesson to be learned: To protect your emblems, register them so that designers can check them out and be forewarned. No matter how small the probability, logos can turn out to be strikingly similar especially when the basic design is very simple, just like this one.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Tokyo organizers said they researched trademarks both inside Japan and abroad before deciding on the logo. The emblem for the Belgian theater is not a registered trademark.

That last line made it sound like they searched the web for non-registered trade marks, to copy.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Why didn't they kept the previous design, which was cool.

This one does not fit with the Olympics, a little bit to serious. Would be perfect for... a theater !

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You think copying a logo would make you upset? Wait until you heard how much they paid him to make the logo.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Change it, its boring. Why is this issue coming up now? Wasn't there another logo doing the rounds when Tokyo bid for the games? Seriously, Japan needs to get its act together. Between this and the stadium fiasco, it seems that the wheels of the bus are coming off.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is a legal and an ethical position. The second position is being ignored.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Would have been smart move to remove the bottom right gray portion. That gives the emblem the image of "L". What does that part have to do with Tokyo, team, or tomorrow? If that section is removed, then the designers original idea stands, and it would be different enough from the Belgium emblem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Complete rip off....

"the other logo has no trademark" - basically admitting you also think it is the same.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

it seems that there are so many similarities among artistic things such as emblems, songs, business marks, flags,,,.so they can use its similarity if the original is not legally registered.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It seems to me that the Belgian thing doesn't look particularly original, and the points that have supposedly been copied can be seen in all sort of logos around the world. It's very VERY hard to make a completely original logo unless you do something really off the wall (see London, and even then that ended up looking like Lisa Simpson performing an obscene act on Bart). I think it's entirely believable that he never saw it before. The real problem is that it's such a poor design that it manages to be neither classical, nor original and rather looks as if a complete amateur (like myself) made a logo by combining standard design elements from something like powerpoint. Very very poor, and utterly forgettable, unlike the 1964 classic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Best get back to the drawing board with that one, it hardly shouts 'cool Japan' does it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't buy it. The Belgian logo is a combination of a T and an L in one character, standing, obviously for Theatre and Liege. If the Tokyo emblem is a T from a widely used font and standing for Tokyo, why does it have a "foot" that makes it look like a combination of a T and L?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

There are, to be sure, much more pressing issues than the friggin' logo. Can't we just let this one go?

Oh so it's ok to plagiarize something and "just let it go?" Oh I get it, it's because it's Japan that you want to get a free pass?

Where does the line get drawn?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Never liked it anyway. Stupid design for an Olympics. I hope it goes the way of the Stadium. Strike two Tokyo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Alistair: "That last line made it sound like they searched the web for non-registered trade marks, to copy.."

I think maybe that's about Sano's skill level, yes.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

A 5 second Google search weighs have shown him any existing similar images... Probably due to secrecy, they didn't want to use this tool

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Deny, deny, and deny he did any wrong. It's the same old pattern for one to take in Japan, when caught done something wrong.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Oh so it's ok to plagiarize something and "just let it go?" Oh I get it, it's because it's Japan that you want to get a free pass?

Not because it's Japan; just because, as I said, it's a friggin' logo. Remember all those logos from Games of yore? - I don't. Now, contracting Mamoru Samuragochi to compose the theme music would definitely raise some red flags....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I tend to be open minded about these things... but it's not a similar logo, it's exactly the same. Hard to think that was an accident, to be honest...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If it was copied, of all the logos to steal why would steal the one logo that does not fit at all with what an Olympics logo should look like?

How does a designer even discover this logo and think to himself, you know where this would look great on? A 2020 Tokyo Olympic banner!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Would have been smart move to remove the bottom right gray portion. That gives the emblem the image of "L". What does that part have to do with Tokyo, team, or tomorrow? If that section is removed, then the designers original idea stands, and it would be different enough from the Belgium emblem.

I don't buy it. The Belgian logo is a combination of a T and an L in one character, standing, obviously for Theatre and Liege. If the Tokyo emblem is a T from a widely used font and standing for Tokyo, why does it have a "foot" that makes it look like a combination of a T and L?

These two posters are spot on. The designer did not 'explain' the other triangle, and obviously couldn't see that his 'standard font' was not a standard font AT ALL but a design to combine two two letters.

May not be illegal, but it's poor taste for an international event to use someones else's work.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ah let me see I will take everything and label it as my design but the little red noticeable red dot!!! To close for comfort I think its a copy cat!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Would have been smart move to remove the bottom right gray portion. That gives the emblem the image of "L". What does that part have to do with Tokyo, team, or tomorrow?

I think the designer was thinking Tokyo 'Lympics

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Then why the utterly meaningless "L"? Because the original had one, that's why!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Both the old logo and stadium should have been revamped.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It seems like Japan is doing it's utmost to make the Olympics an event exclusively for amateurs once again...

Is there anything they can't screw up? How about a tanuki with five gonads as the official mascot? I'll give you that idea for free.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Then why the utterly meaningless "L"? Because the original had one, that's why!

Maybe he didn't mean L, the bottom was part of the big outside circle.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The Belgian logo wasn't trademarked, so they never saw it during their search. If it had been trademarked, they would have seen it and not approved the deisgn.

It's amazing how some people find something nefarious in everything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just based on the content of this article, the word "refute" in the headline seems an exageration. He just "denied". "Refute" implies there is hard evidence to show an assertion is wrong. He offered no such evidence. He just asserted "I didn't know about it".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

legally it is interesting, if the gentleman from Japanese says that this is his own imagination and he did not copy the logo and suppose the court or any arbitrary body accepts his arguments, then other people may follow the same path and will present the same arguments even if they copy.

in such cases similarity is the only proof which favours the first logo owner. by the way this logo looks boring already for such a universal event.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Different colors, I guess, but it is the same logo. Granted, it's a simple design, so I suppose it's possible, however unlikely, that he came up with it independently, but it would still be weird for it to have exactly the same proportions.

http://www.debie.com/display.php?JobCatID=1&JobID=0150

http://logos.wikia.com/wiki/Tokyo_2020#Olympics_.282015-2020.29

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tokyo organizers said they researched trademarks both inside Japan and abroad before deciding on the logo. The emblem for the Belgian theater is not a registered trademark.

Not a problem legally but they should just get rid of it simply because it's ugly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Its not that easy to make a logo. First of all it took me a whole year to design my own logo. I dont think that the artist copied it. He just wants some fame

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The logos are virtually identical. Which brings you to the conclusion that either this is a case of:

Stupidity - which would mean that he plagiarized it thinking he would be able to get away with it on a worldwide stage. Unlikely.

Big huevos - which would mean that he plagiarized it thinking that he is too well regarded and that people would give him the benefit of the doubt. Which would also mean that he would not care about public global ridicule. Again, unlikely.

Ignorance - which would mean that he had absolutely no clue that this was identical to an existing logo. It is, after all, a rather simple logo. They researched logos that were trademarked so this one likely slipped under the radar. What is rather remarkable is that no-one along the way said "Hey! I think I've seen that before". There must have been hundreds of people who saw the thing by the time it went to print and no-one raised that concern? Logo should have gone through a thorough vetting process and the mistake wasn't caught. So assuming that he came up with it on his own, it wasn't just the designer's mistake.

The best thing that the designer and the olympic committee can do now is say, "Our bad. It was a complete and total oversight. We'll replace the logo with something else."

But before that happens, I want one of those souvenirs they've already printed. I should be a nice collector's item now ;).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Part of the job in designing a high profile logo is doing thorough research to insure that it is unique and nothing similar is around. That is an important part of the design and selection process. A good logo design is distinct and original. Sano fails on both accounts. He is simply not up to the job. Neither are the marketing people of the Tokyo Olympics. The whole debacle just shows the lack of professional competence of everybody involved and any clumsy excuses after are just embarrassing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@johnnyapple: You made me laugh with the Tokyo Limpics, but that is wrong. It would read Tokyo Rimpics

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Related news : somebody designed an unofficial "happi" that volunteers for the Olympics can wear. The design is awesome and way better than this logo. Seriously, Japan, there are so many talented, original, creative people in this country. Why chose this logo? Why this guy?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

kickboard: Friend of a friend of Abe's most likely, probably cost Japan tax payers billions of Yen. No one awarded anything from the government is done on skill or merit or price.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As a designer, the guy definitely did a wide image search around, probably looking at logos based around T. And as the logo is a fairly generic-looking one based around a letter (there are many T-logos...and there are only so many things you can do with a "T"), it's a slam dunk that similar designs exist. So while he might not have copied the logo directly, it's highly possible that he saw the Belgian logo, or one very similar, floating around somewhere and just thought, "Oh, that would be cool if I did something like that." But instead of doing "something like that" he just "did that."

There seems to be a feeling in Japan that copying from somebody is actually a good thing...but it's only copying if it's EXACTLY the same. Otherwise, as long as you put even a little bit of your own stank on it, then it's original and you can ignore pesky details like referencing sources or admitting that you straight-up stole stuff.

I see this a lot with students who submit work with massive amounts of plagiarized writing, but who honestly feel their work is original and that the plagiarized bits are just highlighting. Ditto with a lot of Japanese rock bands. They will say they were "influenced" by Offspring or Linkin Park...but they actually are straight-up stealing their signature sounds, stage antics, and their riffs. Watch any Maximum The Hormone song and you'll see what I mean.

So while it's possible Sano lives in a bubble without an Internet connection and never saw the logo before, I'd say it's more likely he DID see it in a search, but just considered it an influence, rather than straight up stealing. Fine if you're in Japan I suppose. Not fine if the logo is meant for international consumption.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Tokyo organizers said they researched trademarks both inside Japan and abroad before deciding on the logo.

Sure they did, just like they researched how that cute loveable name fukkupy might be received outside Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Was the bottom right designed to make it look like a "2" of "2020"? He says he has never been to Belgium but the Theatre de Liege logo is on Logopedia http://logos.wikia.com/wiki/File:THEATRE_LIEGE_logoH_noir.jpg

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Belgian designer's twitter page is now being swamped by Japanese internet keyboard warriors, who are claiming it was a Zainichi Korean who copied the design to make Japan look bad (see below). Of course, they have no source to prove he's really a Zainichi Korean, as usual. Even if he was, how does this make any difference? it was Japan which registered the logo.

なすび@可動する保守人形 ‏@j69nasubi

@rattles01 @birdie7555 @OliDebie Unconfirmed information Designer: Kenjiro Sano (real Korean name, Park jon hi)

腹立つ親父 ‏@jayinae

@OliDebie I'm so sorry and embarrassed by the copyright infringement committed by a Korean-Japanese designer, Jon-hi Park, aka Kenjiro Sano.

ブラボー ‏@BarbabravoIwate @OliDebie @TheatreDeLiege Kenjiro Sano is Korean. Governor Masuzoe, too.They have two name, They are Zainichi(在日), not Japanese.

ラプンツェル ‏@wildpintao 翻訳を表示 @OliDebie Tokyo olympic emblem was designed by a KOREAN designer born in Japan, copied a logo.Protest Tokyo governor!

ラプンツェル ‏@wildpintao 翻訳を表示 @OliDebie @TheatreDeLiege.He named his servername zyappu=JAP. Please focus on Japan is invaded by illegal Korean pretending tobe Japanese

http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q14148463409;_ylt=A2RAjakoS8NVpzAAKE4XAPR7?query=%E4%BD%90%E9%87%8E%E7%A0%94%E4%BA%8C%E9%83%8E+%E6%9C%B4%E5%B0%8A%E7%B0%B8&status=solved

http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q13148457183;_ylt=A2RAqWLM1LlVbWoAwIy6TuB7

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Ridiculous! Since when just because you say you did not see or copy a previous one, making an identical logo is excused...? We are talking about design and what can be seen, not intentions, concept, way of thinking it out, etc. What it looks like, is exactly the same, except for the red circle at the top right. Also Tokyo Olympic logo is made putting together playing on Tokyo T, Tokyo O, Olympic L... There is no brainstorming about it. It really looks like put together by a kid, playing with shapes during a boring lesson at school, as we used to do... I am astonished that the designer said the result marks his highest point in the career. Being chosen, maybe mark it, but the logo is really silly and an already million times seen pattern.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Didn't know he was zainichi, although that doesn't really matter at this point. I did some looking and this isn't the first time he has "borrowed" ideas. A quick google search reveals several designs he made that are interestingly similar to others, like a coffee cup with a pig's nose drawn on the bottom.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He "borrows" habitually: http://livedoor.blogimg.jp/girls002/imgs/f/b/fb1526f0.jpg

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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