Officials at a tourist board in China have been left red-faced after the winning design for their city’s new logo was accused of plagiarising Disney and at least three other artists.
On 11th December, the Dalian Culture and Tourism Bureau, in north-eastern China’s Liaoning Province, announced its new logo which features both Chinese characters and English letters spelling out ‘Dalian’.
Video Credit: AsiaWire / Weibo
The design by Su Zhanying, a staff member at the Dalian Yinji Tourism and Culture Development Company, won first place and bagged its creator a cash prize of 30,000 RMB (3,235 GBP), officials said.
However, eagle-eyed internet users were quick to spot the obvious similarities between its font and that of the Disney corporation’s logo, which is loosely based on founder Walt Disney’s signature.
From the large and identical letters D and A, to the lower-case I topped with an irregular circle in place of a small dot, the logo appeared to have little, if any, originality.
But the case became even more damning for the city’s tourist board, which had hoped the three-month contest – named ‘Dalian Has Quality Gifts’ – and the subsequent logo unveiling would help boost visitor numbers in 2020.
After the controversy broke on social media, Chinese calligrapher Ye Genyou pointed out that the Chinese characters used to spell out ‘Dalian’ appeared to be a direct imitation of his personal front known as ‘Xing’.
The image showing a lighthouse was found to belong to Filipino online artist ‘blueii’ from their work ‘The Brisbane Pathway’, while the blue character beneath reading ‘Lian’ appeared to have been lifted straight from the government website of Lianshui County, in East China’s Jiangsu Province, according to local media.
Even the bluebird next to the lighthouse was not an original, reports said, with the picture, in fact, a stock image of a whale fin.
In response to the scandal, the tourist office said on 17th December that it had begun an investigation into the alleged intellectual property rights infringements.
The statement promised to disqualify the winner and rescind the cash reward if found guilty of unlawfully plagiarising the various aspects of the logo.
It is currently unclear if Disney are planning any legal action.
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