What are the intellectual property rights for The Royal...

What are the intellectual property rights for The Royal Wedding?

Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleBy Mark Jones [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle will take place on Saturday 19 May 2018 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.

As Law fanatics, there’s one thing that we’re particularly interested about;

How will the Royal Intellectual Properties be affected?

Our very own Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Law School, Dr Janice Denoncourt, offers some insight into the Royal Intellectual Properties after the announcement by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office that the rules of use have been “temporarily relaxed”.

The world is fascinated by the Royal Family. Consequently, the marriage of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle means that intellectual property (IP), image rights and branding are at the forefront.

There is no getting around the idea that the British Royal Family are a unique selling point of the United Kingdom. It has been predicated that there will be a worldwide TV audience of 1 billion and millions of pounds will be injected into the UK economy, through purchases of  souvenirs, memorabilia and absorbing related marketing and advertising surrounding the Royal Wedding. As a result, it’s unsurprising that lots of businesses and organisations will be keen to associate their offerings with the event for commercial gains in the UK and further afield.

With so much commercial interest in the Royal Wedding, super brand management will play a key role, as special legal rules regarding the use of IP and image rights come into play.

The office of The Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel (the most senior officer of the Royal Household), produces definitive guidelines on various aspects such as the Royal Arms, Names, Images, Royal Devices, Emblems and Titles and of photographs, portraits, engravings, effigies and busts of The Queen and Members of The Royal Family.

Under normal circumstances, the use of Royal names or Royal residences on products is deemed as unlawful, if there is an indication that the use of the name has some connection with or are supplied to a Member of the Royal Family. On occasional events of national importance these rules can be relaxed. Although, smaller, less IP-aware businesses can rest assured, knowing that the Royal Wedding is classed as nationally important, they need to ensure that they remain on their best commercial behaviour.

The announcement that The Lord Chamberlain’s Office recently made was that:

“In line with previous practice for Royal weddings, Prince Harry has been pleased to approve that the rules governing the commercial use of Royal Photographs and Insignia may be temporarily relaxed to allow their use on souvenirs commemorating the Engagement and Marriage of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle.”
This means that approved photographs of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle and the full Coat of Arms of HRH Prince Henry of Wales (known as ‘devices’) are allowed on Royal Wedding souvenirs.  In other words, such use will not infringe. Souvenirs specifically designed to commemorate the Marriage can use phrases such as: “To Commemorate the Engagement of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle, 27th November 2017” or “To Commemorate the Marriage of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Miss Meghan Markle, 19th May 2018”.

Where the limitations lie is that souvenirs should be in ‘good taste’, exclusive of any form of advertising, and shouldn’t imply any Royal custom or approval to avoid infringing the IP and image rights of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Royal IP Etiquette

Certain types of souvenir have specific restrictions imposed on them.

Textiles such as clothing, towels and aprons cannot use Royal Insignia but tasteful carpets, wall hangings, head scarves and cushions are permitted to.

In this instance, containers and packaging will qualify as souvenirs providing that they are either metalware, ceramic or other semi-indestructible material, specially produced for the Royal Wedding. Businesses looking to produce the above with the use of The Royal symbols should be aware that they can only do this on approved photographs of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle. Containers and packaging are specifically forbidden from making use of Prince Harry’s Coat of Arms.

Flags are not permitted to use Prince Harry’s Arms.

Medallions and commemorative coins; coins that are not currency, will qualify as souvenirs, another special exception for the Royal Wedding.

Decorations celebrating the Royal Wedding can use the Royal devices as long as they don’t imply Royal Patronage or approval of a firm or its products in any way.

Using approved photos and imagery

Most photographic agencies will hold the approved photographs of the members of the Royal Family, including agencies such as Getty Images and Shutterstock.

Kensington Palace owns the copyright to the official photographs of the engagement. The photographer hired to take the engagement photos, Alexi Lubomirski, will also be covering the Royal Wedding as the official photographer.

Clearance must be obtained from the Royal Household before images of the Engagement or Royal Wedding can be used. Furthermore, authorised use of these images is strictly limited to news editorial purposes, not for souvenirs or any other materials.

The way that both Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle have continued the royal tradition of sharing their valuable IP and image rights with the public for this special occasion demonstrates a balanced approach to modern global super-brand management, particularly in light of the heavy criticism that powerful IP owners in the public domain receive.

IP and image rights outside of the UK

The hysteria of the Royal Wedding will no doubt hit nations overseas. Therefore, it’s imperative to state that the IP rules discussed in this blog are territorial and only apply within the United Kingdom, unless formal arrangements have been made in those jurisdictions by the Royal Family.

IP and image right guidelines

For a complete list of all of the IP and image rights guidelines for 2018 visit royal.uk.

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