Burger King seems unlikely to diversify from fast food into male grooming so is probably untroubled by this barber shop’s branding. Had McDonalds’ legal department come across the long-gone chippy shown below, it might have been less relaxed. The somewhat chaotic sign advertised burgers alongside a device practically indistinguishable from the Golden Arches trademark, albeit doing a headstand.
Of course Big Burger isn’t the only industry where liveries are jealously guarded. The Walt Disney Company’s wordmark is derived from a stylised version of Walt Disney’s signature, and when the letters spell out Disney (or most likely, as below, in unsanctioned and mischievous distortions) the word belongs to the company.
But preventing the use of the letters in other ways is more-or-less impossible. The copyright protection of letterforms varies from country to country, but a prohibition on duplicating the shapes of glyphs is practically unenforceable. Waltograph is a freeware font which expands the Disney logo to a full alphabet, with which you can do, well . . .
But there has been some benefit to Disney. Justin Callaghan, who made Waltograph, has put together a collection of images of how his fonts have been used by the company in their attractions and official merchandise.
The sign shown below is stealing some Disney stardust to sell liquor. It’s unlikely that the Mouse House would condone such use if they had a say. Disney’s theme parks were dry for many years, and the company still make sure that insofar as alcohol is now available in their Lands and Worlds, it is consumed in siloed locations.
But the brand is not the man, and the firm’s founder might have dropped by Brighton Your Spirit. He once said to a friend:
I’m not Walt Disney. I do a lot of things Walt Disney wouldn’t do. Walt Disney doesn’t smoke. I smoke. Walt Disney doesn’t drink. I drink.
¶ Notes. In an essay from 2020 on CAST Luciano Perondi wrote an assessment of the developments in digital type since Robin Kinross’s article ‘The digital wave’ was published in Eye in 1992. Perondi’s piece contains a helpful summary of the current state of trademark, patent, and copyright law as it concerns digital fonts. Waltograph can be downloaded for non-commercial use from mickeyavenue.com ¶ Sources. American Experience: Walt Disney (PBS, 2015). ¶ Images. Any images included in this post may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license.