As His Majesty the King and The Queen Consort celebrate their Coronation as Heads of State this Spring, many brands (particularly British brands) will want to celebrate this landmark moment in history. To do so, brands will need to consider how they can celebrate the Coronation without giving rise to liability or falling foul of advertising regulations.
In this insight, we give a brief overview of the legal landscape and some advice and signposts to assist brands looking to celebrate the Coronation.
How can brands celebrate the Coronation?
To mark His Majesty The King's Coronation, a specific Coronation emblem ("the Emblem") has been designed.
Buckingham Palace has confirmed within published guidelines that the Emblem "is intended for use by charities, companies and individuals for celebrations" to mark the Coronation. The guidelines confirm that such "intended use" includes "commercial use, merchandise and advertising".
Whilst the guidelines are seemingly broad enough to enable the Emblem to be used in a variety of situations, it is worth noting that if your brand intends to use the Emblem you must only do so whilst abiding by the specific presentation directions. Such directions include specific references to the size, colour and positioning of the Emblem and in addition to reviewing the Do's and Don'ts listed below, brands should review the guidelines in detail prior to using the Emblem.
What other legal rights should brands be aware of?
Registered trademarks give an exclusive right to prevent third parties using:
- a mark that is identical with the trademark in relation to identical goods and services; and
- a mark that is identical or similar with the trademark in relation to identical or similar goods and services where there is a likelihood of confusion.
In addition to the above, the Trade Marks Act 1994 provides specific restrictions in relation to references third parties can make to the Royal Arms or other devices, in connection with any business, without the authority of His Majesty (on in the case of (2) the member of the Royal Family):
- the Royal Arms (or arms so closely resembling the Royal Arms as to be calculated to deceive); or
- any device, emblem or title in such a manner as to be calculated to lead to the belief that he or she is employed by, or supplies goods or services to, His Majesty or that member of the Royal Family.
Further, per the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, it is an offence to, in the course of business, give any false indication that goods/services are supplied or approved by His Majesty or any member of the Royal Family.
Brands should also be aware that members of the public and/or competitors can make complaints against a brand if a reference to His Majesty or the Royal Family breaches the UK advertising codes - the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) and the UK Code of Broadcast Marketing (BCAP Code). For example, the codes include rules prohibiting misleading advertising and rules pertaining to the depiction of the Royal Family and the use of Royal Arms or Emblems in advertising. Care should therefore be taken, for example, to avoid implying an official endorsement from His Majesty or the Royal Family (if one does not exist) or that a product is official memorabilia if that is not the case.
Some further practical points to consider
- DO check for any registered trademarks that might exist. The Royal Family has released an official emblem to celebrate The King and Queen Consort's Coronation.
- DO use this official approved emblem rather than other royal arms and logos, and follow the usage guidelines. The guidelines are relatively broad in terms of describing where the official logo can be used and they specifically permit commercial use, merchandise and advertising.
- DO follow the Lord Chamberlain's Office guidelines around the use, for commercial purposes, of the Royal Arms, Royal Devices, Emblems and Titles and of photographs, portraits, engravings, effigies and busts of The King and Members of the Royal Family.
- DO make it clear that this is your advertisement.
- DO consider first asking for permission - in particular, DO NOT feature images of the Royals without permission.
- DO comply with the ASA's general advertising rules.
- DO be aware that a complaint could be made to the ASA about your advertising. Upheld complaints are often accompanied by negative PR and you will be required to remove the advertisement(s) and prohibited from using it again, which may have cost implications (e.g. the costs of taking down ads and replacing them, wasted costs and opportunities, etc).
- DO seek advice if you are unsure - either from the Gowling WLG Brands, Advertising & Designs team or from firstname.lastname@example.org
- DO NOT re-draw or amend the emblem or create a new emblem.
- DO NOT use any Royal Arms without permission.
- DO NOT make any suggestion of a link between yourself and the King or the Royal Family. In particular, DO NOT make any suggestion that your goods/services are supplied or approved by the King or the Royal Family.
If you have any questions, please get in touch.
 s99 Trade Marks Act 1994
 s12(1) Trade Descriptions Act 1968