A trademark claim

Those who follow me on Twitter may have seen my rather cryptic tweet from a few weeks ago.

Now that this process appears to have concluded, I’m going to explain a little more.

On 16 June this year, I received the following email from Redbubble:

This frankly caught me by surprise. Nobody had ever contacted me before with any trademark or copyright concerns in my work in over four years of publicly designing maps.

The two maps in question were the maps of Brisbane’s and the Gold Coast’s heavy and light rail network, part of my Australian City Rail Maps series.

As you can see in the email, I had very little information to go on other than “Translink trademark”. I didn’t really know what the claim was for, and I lodged a counter notice the next day and waited.

On 1 July I received a response from Redbubble to my counter notice:

Again, this didn’t provide me with much more information, but the maps remained offline.

Wanting to find out more about what was going on, I contacted Translink via its website.

As an aside, the feedback form is frankly a mess, mainly because you can’t send any email or message that’s not related to a specific service or station/stop because they are all compulsory fields. You also don’t get any confirmation email that your feedback has been submitted.

After a while of back and forth trying to get my email to the right person, I received a response on 19 August from Legal Services at Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR):

As I’m no lawyer, I’m not going to say very much about my opinion on this topic.

What I will say is what I emailed DTMR in response.

I find it quite unnecessary that a large government organisation feels it appropriate to lodge formal legal notices and use its Principal Legal Officer against a small, independent designer before trying to resolve the issue in any other way.

As I said in my response, I would have been perfectly happy to remove the Translink or any other names from my maps. The reason that I didn’t was that nobody reached out to ask. There are plenty of ways to contact me and I received no direct communication or requests.

In any case, I will be re-uploading new versions of all these maps with the names of transport organisations removed.

That’s all for now, feel free to draw your own conclusions and opinions.

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