back to article RAF strafes Next in pirated duvet copyright rumpus

The Royal Air Force is suing a high-street shopping chain for violating its intellectual property rights. A range of duvets and other bedroom stuff marketed at young boys feature red-white-and-blue roundels, and this has Her Majesty's flyboys up in arms (as it were). Various UK media report that the Ministry of Defence has …


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  1. Samantha Clinton
    Black Helicopters


    ...having checked out the RAF many young boys do you know that would want a Aviation Cross Stitch set for Christmas (yes, go on, shoot me down in sexist flames...)?

    Would have thought the helicopter was self explanatory...and it features on the cross stitch)

  2. AF

    What roundels?

    As I'm sure many people will point out, the roundels aren't on the stuff being flogged by Next - it's a design on the wallpaper, not the bed linen etc.

  3. James Pickett


    "April Fools' Day 1918"

    Should be out of copyright by now then, unless they know who the original artist was, and that he was still alive in 1938...

  4. Anthony

    easy fix

    Just get some kids to pose "wearing" the offending bedding as capes.

  5. arran


    like revenue raising to me.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Use a maple leaf not a red dot. but the similarity has signifcance to the comonwealth. Aussies have a red roo the Kiwis have a red Kiwi!

    see wiki for loads more (accuracy not implied!)

  7. Paul Buxton

    Defending branding

    As pointed out in your article, the mods in the '60s were very fond of this logo. Surely if the RAF didn't try to protect "their intellectual rights" from the mods 40 odd years ago then they can hardly claim it as a "right" now.

    I have a Ben Sherman shirt that has a top button with the RAF roundel design on it that I bought a few years back, I don't recall the RAF protecting "their brand" then.

    It's as generic as the Union Flag.

    But, and this is the real problem, who pays the legal costs? I can bet that it will be you and me.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Copyright vs Trademark

    "Should be out of copyright by now then, unless they know who the original artist was, and that he was still alive in 1938..."

    No, they're suing over trademark rights, which subsist as long as the mark is in active use.


    wouldn't the fact that the army and navy stopped using the mark almost a century ago mean that they have effectively abandoned the mark?


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    MoD - Made in China

    Yeh whatever but I bet those idiots are endorsing stuff that is made in China (and crap quality).

    Why not protect the brand though, you can use the licence fees to buy some more uber-crap helicopters from WestlandAugusta.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re Copyright

    The RAF are claiming trademark infringement not (c).

  11. Dave Evans

    CAF piccy???

    What is the relevance of a Canadian Armed Forces aircraft picture. The CAF use a red maple leaf silhouette in the centre not a circle.

    Mines the anorak...

  12. Anonymous Coward


    It's no doubt been said before...

    Why do we need a separate air force, with all the admin, bureaucracy and high-rank structure, when most of the functions are already integrated in the other two forces.

    We should be taking the best, most skilled, personnel from the RAF and put them in better uniforms of the Navy/Army... put this air experiment to a rightful end...and save the defence budget for things actually needed (like equipment that works, delivered to where its needed and pay that is in line with the risk involved.)

    It seems as though they already know their end is near, if they have to squabble over such petty things as a couple of coloured circles.

  13. Jet Set Willy


    That appears to be a red maple leaf at the centre of the roundel. Can't be sure because of the low res image but bears a resemblance to the one on the vertical stabiliser.

  14. Chris Neale
    Black Helicopters

    Copyright "owner"


    As with most large companies, I'm sure the MoD inherits, owns and can sell anything you produce or think whilst you work there.

    "All your designs are belong to us!"

  15. Philip
    IT Angle

    If I were Next I'd pony up..

    ...otherwise it could be Typhoons over Leicester (not a bad idea as it goes....)

    Oh, and Samantha - you'd be surprised at what we boys want if it's got 'aviation' on it :)

  16. Chronos

    It'll be the merchies next

    That cushion/pouffe/faux leather wotsit looks to be a very badly butchered red ensign.

    I would have thought that the RAF had more things to worry about than kids getting hold of their roundels. Perhaps there is some truth in the old saying that even though the Air Vice Marshal has five gold rings, he's still just one more arsehole. One wonders if they're going to round up all the ex-mods and confiscate their parkas?

    Jolly Roger. Less chance of getting sued flying that.

  17. Anonymous Coward


    I was under the impression those air force pukes were called crabs because they run away sideways and go hide in the nearest drinking spot at the first sign of danger?

  18. Sarah Davis
    Paris Hilton

    Desperate Duvets

    poor buggers, they must be desperately skint to use this excuse as a mthod for raising revenue. They're also probably really miffed that they didn't think of sueing mods in the 60's (d'oh) - could have made a packet then. Still, it's better than raising taxes. Mind you, if they looked after their toys they wouldn't need replacing now would they.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Crab Air

    Also because you ask a simple question like "When is the my flight due to leave this S***hole?" and they shrug and scuttle off sideways..

    Mines the one in dusty dpm

  20. Trevor Watt

    Who's idea was it anyway

    To paint little targets on the aeroplanes?

  21. Philip Bune

    What Next!

    Are they going to sue Airfix for using the logo on their models & all the companies that mad the mod badges in the 60's

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely Des should be spending MY tax on more flak jackets for the bods actually getting shot at rather than wasting it on rubbish like this. Although I would prefer a pull out of Iraq and an agreement with the Afghani farmers to stop the poppy production ... much better use of money and good UK crime reduction.

  23. John Chadwick

    Well which one

    The RAF, has over the years used several roundels, so I should think at least a few would still be in copyright.

    But hang on isn't it a trademark?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    International roundels

    Not quite so much of a problem - the Canadian, Australian and NZ air forces all use roundels, but the red "blob" is actually quite different - a maple leaf for the Canucks, a 'roo for the Aussies and a kiwi for the... erm... Kiwis

  25. Michael

    What next????

    ....The Red Army Faction "strafing " the Royal Air Force for stealing their acronym?????

  26. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Are you the Sun?

    Where is the IT angle here. Or even the news angle?

    Have you recruited Sun journo hacks?

  27. Paul Buxton


    From Wikipedia:

    "If a court rules that a trademark has become "generic" through common use (such that the mark no longer performs the essential trademark function and the average consumer no longer considers that exclusive rights attach to it), the corresponding registration may also be ruled invalid."

    So when you see the design, do you automatically think "RAF" or do you think "Mod" (for clarity, not Ministry of Defense). It largely depends on where you see it. If it's on the side of a plane you can rest assured that it means RAF but on a Parka or a Vespa it would certainly mean Mod.

    On a duvet? Well that's up to the courts to decide and for us to pay for.

    I think the RAF may lose their trademark.

  28. Steve Dulieu

    Musical instruments next?

    Presumably these lads should be building an air raid shelter against an incoming cease and desist sortie?


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whose roundel is it anyway?

    ISTR that when the RAF roundel was introduced it was only after consulting the French, because is was a derivative of theirs (with the colours reversed). The French granted permission for its use as a aircraft marking.

    So for this use the French own it...

    Also how do you distinguish this as an RAF roundel rather than a simple concentric circle design? The RAF have used various proportions for the three elements over the years (for low visibility and various other purposes), but the iconic design that this is closest to has the centre circle 1/5 the diameter of the outermost one. The red dot on the wallpaper shown is larger.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Flag rug

    Surely people should be more concerned with the rug in the picture, slightly disrespectful to *actually* use the nation's flag as a doormat isn't it?

  31. Mark York

    Bernie The Bolt?

    "To paint little targets on the aeroplanes?"

    The Germans used them for that very purpose, cue requests from pilots to make them smaller as The Bosch were shooting them down rather easily.

    The Germans obligingly in the spirit of fair play gave the RAF a nice big X to aim for on their planes & the Japanese had a nice big red spot on their aircraft.

    Piracy for the copyright infringement & marking up the number of kills on the side of the cockpit.

  32. Chronos

    Re: Flag rug

    Well, despite the fact one would think using the public as doormats would be considered disrespectful, that hasn't stopped NuLabour, has it? Turnabout being fair play and all that, I really don't see the problem...

    We need a "blatant troll" icon. Ballmer'll do at a push, though he's more monkey than troll. And no, I didn't use the Tw*t-o-tron.

  33. paul clarke
    Paris Hilton

    So now take...

    ... the who and all mods to court?

    "Stupid is as stupid does" and this sure is stupid!!

    Take Oldham to court as well!!


    She has a red hole!!

  34. Anonymous Coward

    re:If I were Next I'd pony up..

    phil, would you kindly shove a typhoon up your arse, as we all know leicester is a beautiful city that is in no way deserving of a scorched earth policy

  35. ShaggyDoggy

    @Michael, etc

    It's Red Army Fraction, not Faction

    BBC and others please note

  36. FlatSpot
    IT Angle

    hmm..on a slightly different note

    If I was a kid (again) I would love that Lazy Bones duvet set page5. cool with a hint of piracy badness, if only they did it in Super Kingsize..... though it would have to be in duck egg blue to satisfy the wife... :s

  37. Andy Bright

    Don't think there is a copyright on the union jack

    and as that's the only symbol or flag on the bed linen, I fail to see what the RAF are hoping to achieve, except maybe to prevent their roundels from being seen in photographs.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    stands to reason

    the armed forces are no longer run from a military perspective but as a poorly run business.

    those in charge have a corporate mentallity so it is natural that they focus on issues like this rather than making sure that the troops at the sharp end have the best training, equipment, and leadership available

    mines' the oversized " loitering within-tent" Parka with the Lambretta keys in the pocket

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Name That Grease

    Just in case anyone was wondering what the official name of the grease used to treat an infestation of crabs, is, (I just know you are) it's called Blue Unction.

    Mines the one moving sideways.

  40. Adrian Esdaile

    @ Samantha Clinton: Sexist? think that if you like....

    "...having checked out the RAF many young boys do you know that would want a Aviation Cross Stitch set for Christmas (yes, go on, shoot me down in sexist flames...)?"

    ERM.... do you have any idea what happens when you admit you're a guy who likes tapestry and knitting? - It's better for attracting women than being a rugger boy, thats for sure! It's how I found my lovely wife!

  41. Robin


    Shouldn't Gibson or whoever be tipped off too, for the reckless use of that archtop on the duvet cover?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also owned by Master Browne..

    For all you TM nerds out there (guilty, m'lud) here's a list of all the other marks 'owned' by Des:

    Interesting that the roundel seem to have been only registered in 2002 (#2189121A)

  43. Francis Offord

    Really! Wilberforce!!!

    It is not actually recorded but the reason for the Air Force Blue was the unfulfilled order for the cloth, made by the Russians for a proposed new regiment in the 1910s. Subsequent to the revolution it was not required and had not been paid for. The British Military establishment decided to put it to use for the RAF uniform colour so we have had to put up with it since then, and as a time serving man I do mean "Put up with."

  44. Tim Lane


    in the field of bedding has so much been owed by so many to so few.

  45. min

    so i better get ready to

    worry about getting my lambretta gear into the nearest furnace, since they all have the roundels on them. something tells me this nonsense will have a rather humorous conclusion, though not for the RAF...

  46. Nick Pettefar

    Other Countries Too

    Here is the roundel used by another country's military: you need to scroll down a bit.

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