Israel at 60 logo a no-go for some

Want to use the logo to help spread the celebration? Not so fast.

israel 60 blurred 88 (photo credit: )
israel 60 blurred 88
(photo credit: )
Want to use Israel's 60th birthday logo to help spread the celebration? Not so fast. A request by The Jerusalem Post to use it on its Web site revealed this week that specific approval is required for such requests, requiring first navigating a bureaucratic path that may take some of the cheer out of the process. While some questioned whether such a move might be undermining the very public relations opportunity the anniversary poses, those responsible for administering the use of the logo explained the bureaucracy was aimed at preventing misuse or commercialization of the symbol, which features the image of a child creating the number 60 with a blue ribbon. A committee of five government ministers chose the official logo in September, and it has been decorating government documents since February 22. A Star of David, the word "Israel" and the slogan "Today & Beyond" are also featured on it. But while massive placement of the logo might be welcome, according to regulations published by the sponsorship committee headed by Finance Ministry Senior Deputy to the Accountant General Arnon Ikan, its use requires individual approval. Thus the logo is approved to be used in different publications whose contents are related to the events marking the 60th anniversary, on ministry documents and on specific merchandise. "The use of the logo will not be permitted on Web sites since these publications are dynamic and there is no way to supervise and check their contents," the regulations governing the logo's use read. The regulations also forbid the use of the logo on the back of consumer products, to avoid the assumption that a product has been recommended by the State of Israel and to avoid offensive usage of the logo and what it symbolizes. While not exactly in keeping with the public relations belief that any publicity is good publicity, and considering the constant criticism of Israel's PR efforts, one might have expected a different approach regarding the logo. But Web sites both formal and informal, including blogs and private lists, are not allowed to use it unless specific permission is given. "What the state is trying to do here is legal, but one could fight it in court, even if it has becomes harder in recent years to do so," said Dr. Katya Assaf, a jurist specializing in intellectual property. Assaf's article on the issue will be published in the fall issue of the American magazine IDEA - The Intellectual Property Law Review. "The entire question of the legality of using symbols occupies many individuals and courts around the world," she said. "One famous case was of a group of homosexuals who asked to use the Olympic logo for an event called the Gay Olympic Games. Eventually, after they used the symbol without permission, the person who owned the rights to this symbol won the case in court, despite the other side's explanation that sometimes exploiting a trademark's positive cultural meaning is a better way to convey a certain message. "The main thing that is upsetting about this particular case is that the country is trying to control the content of a symbol that is supposed to be ours and part of our culture," Assaf said. Sixtieth anniversary officials disagree. "The decision to approve or not approve the use of the logo was made following a legal consultation and in accordance with the customary definition of government property. Each request [to use the logo] is being examined according to the crux of the matter. Fortunately, so far most of the requests were approved. Coincidentally, all recognized media outlets received permission to use the logo," a spokesperson for the headquarters for the 60th anniversary celebrations said in response to a query, and indeed the Post eventually received such permission. A Finance Ministry spokesman said in response that in an attempt to avoid abuse of Israel's symbol, it had been decided to limit and control the use of the logo, despite the fact that the ministry was aware of the difficulty of enforcing such regulations among private individuals.