Motion Marks

Trade marks that move or have motion have been around for a long time. Since 1924 MGM Studios have a motion mark at the start of their feature films showing the image of a roaring lion. It has been parodied many times including a Monty Python version with the lion replaced by a croaking frog. From 1927 Universal Pictures used a biplane flying around the globe with a trail of smoke forming the words Universal Pictures. Like Dr Who, the logo has evolved, but the 100th anniversary of the studio version this year still shows the words Universal in a trail around the globe. The 20th Century Fox Searchlights logo with a musical fanfare dates back to 1935. The modern version is easily traced to the original.

Apart from the US, trade mark registration statutes have lagged behind. While rights in moving images have been protected by copyright and passing off, it is only recently that moving or animated images have been registered as trade marks. In Australia this came about with the federal Trade Marks Act 1995 and the broad definition of a trade mark in s 17 as a “sign used, or intended to be used, to distinguish goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person.”

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