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RAF launches bid to register image as fashion logo

LONDON – The Royal Airforce has launched a bid to protect its famous logo, which could see the red, white and blue image launched as a fashion range.

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Known as the "roundel", the image is most famously associated with RAF Spitfires during World War II, but it has also been made famous by Mods scooter firm Lambretta, which has used the red, white and blue roundel on a range of clothes.

The Ministry of Defence will have to wait 12 weeks to see if its bid to register the roundel as a trademark is successful.

If it wins its case, the MoD will have sole claim on the roundel, which it could then licence to the likes of Lambretta if it chooses, or launch its own range of clothes and other souvenirs, with the cash going back to the government.

The trademark case might mean that Lambretta will have to scrap ads and spend millions rebranding if the Patent Office grants the MoD its patent.

With its adoption by groups of young Mods in the 1960s, the roundel has become a fashion icon, picked up again by bands like The Who, Merton Parkas, Secret Affair, Lambrettas and The Jam in the 1970s.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "The main issue is to protect our brand image. The 'roundel' is an image associated with the RAF and people could make misassociations."

She added: "If we are successful, it would mean the MoD would have sole right to use the roundel and businesses would need to seek permission to use it."

The origin of the roundel dates back to the fledgling French air force in the First World War. The French adopted it to help their gunners recognise their planes during battle and avoid what has, in modern times, become known as "friendly fire".

The British followed the French example and reversed the blue, white and red colour for use on British planes.

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