UKIP announced a new leader and new branding on Friday 29 September 2017, with the logo making far more headlines than the leader.
UKIP members voted for the new logo with a purple lion on a white background, replacing the old logo incorporating a £ sign. Some political pundits noted that both Britain First and the DUP incorporate lion logos in their branding and questioned whether UKIP really wanted to replicate or imitate them.
Meanwhile many others, including the BBC's Sarah Smith, suggested the logo was "quite remarkably similar" to the purple lion in the Premier League logo, which itself was the result of a rebrand only last year.
In response, a UKIP spokesman reportedly said that they had "checked it does not infringe copyright" and that they were "not that stupid", with party chairman, Paul Oakden saying they had done their "due diligence".
Given that copyright infringement requires copying, if UKIP (or its brand designers) can show their independent creation of the lion image then they may have a defence, especially as there are always bound to be similarities in two drawings of a lion. However there can be infringement by sub-conscious copying and a court might consider the lions so similar that copying is presumed.
In any event, aside from copyright, the Premier League might also have a trade mark infringement claim, with their lion registered as a EU Trade Mark covering a wide range of goods and services including for example "arranging and conducting of conferences" - not unlike the UKIP conference at which the logo was unveiled. UKIP do not appear to have any trade marks registered, either in the EU (which may not come as a surprise) or otherwise.
If UKIP really had done their due diligence, a trade mark clearance search by trade mark lawyers may have been appropriate and this risk may have been identified at an earlier stage - for more information see http://brand-protection.brabners.com/resources/clearance-searches/.
Unlike copyright, trade marks do not have to be copied to be infringed. If the Premier League could show that the UKIP logo took unfair advantage of, or was detrimental to, the distinctive character and repute of the Premier League trade mark they may have a successful claim. In addition if they can prove a likelihood of confusion, which includes a likelihood of association, they may also have a claim.
Accordingly, it probably was "that stupid" of the party chairman to state, when asked about the matter: "I don’t mind UKIP being associated with the Premier League".
It should be said that lion motifs are very common generally in logos and trade marks, but if the Premier League decide the UKIP logo is too close for comfort, they may well want to kick up a fuss, creating yet another conflict between politics and sport.
A party spokesman insisted the design, which features a purple lion on a white background like the Premier League’s logo, “is not a rip-off” and stressed that Ukip had “checked” that it does not infringe copyright, declaring: “We’re not that stupid.” Ukip chairman Paul Oakden told BBC Two’s Daily Politics: “I’m not worried. “For a start, I don’t mind Ukip being associated with the Premier League … If they (the Premier League) feel they have a right to take legal action I’m sure they’ll consult with their lawyers. “We did our due diligence before we put these logos to the membership and, as I said, we are perfectly comfortable.”