Did you know that some of the world's most iconic buildings and landmarks are trademarked? Yes, that's right! From the night-time dazzle of the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the modern marvels like The Shard in London, these structures are not just architectural wonders but also protected entities. The concept of trademarking a building might seem a bit peculiar at first, but it's a practice that has been adopted to protect the commercial use of the image or likeness of certain iconic structures. In Europe and the UK, several famous buildings and landmarks are trademarked, much like the Eiffel Tower (at night) in Paris. But it's not just Europe… buildings and landmarks are trademarked all over the world.
Famous Trademarked Buildings in Europe:
- Eiffel Tower (Night-time Illumination) – Paris, France: While the structure itself is not trademarked, the night-time illumination is. You need permission to publish or sell photographs of the tower lit up at night.
- Atomium – Brussels, Belgium: This iconic building, which resembles an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times, is also trademarked. Commercial use of its image requires permission.
- Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain: The basilica's unique design is copyrighted, and commercial use of its image is restricted.
- Neuschwanstein Castle – Bavaria, Germany: This fairy-tale castle is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. However, commercial use of its image is subject to licensing.
- The Louvre Pyramid – Paris, France: The glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre Museum is also protected by copyright laws.
Famous Trademarked Buildings in the UK:
- The London Eye, London: This giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames is a notable landmark in London. Its image is trademarked, and commercial use requires permission.
- The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe), London: This commercial skyscraper, known for its distinctive shape, is trademarked. Its unique design is a well-recognized feature of London's skyline.
- The Shard, London: The tallest building in the UK, The Shard's image is trademarked. It's a prominent part of London's cityscape.
- Millennium Dome (The O2 Arena), London: This large dome-shaped building, now a major entertainment venue, is protected by trademark. It's an iconic feature of the Greenwich Peninsula.
- Angel of the North, Gateshead: While not a building, this renowned public sculpture by Antony Gormley is a trademarked landmark in the UK.
- Buckingham Palace, London: As the residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom, Buckingham Palace's image is protected.
- St Paul's Cathedral, London: This historic cathedral, an architectural masterpiece by Sir Christopher Wren, is trademarked, protecting its image for commercial use.
- Harrods Department Store, London: The famous luxury department store in Knightsbridge has its building trademarked, recognising its iconic status and unique architecture.
- Blackpool Tower, Blackpool: Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, this landmark tower in Blackpool is trademarked.
- The Royal Albert Hall, London: This concert hall dedicated to the memory of Prince Albert has its image protected under trademark laws.
- Tower Bridge, London: This iconic bridge over the River Thames is a symbol of London and its image is trademarked.
- The British Museum, London: Known for its vast collection and grand architecture, the British Museum's image is protected.
- The Royal Opera House, London: A major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, its distinctive building is trademarked.
- Windsor Castle, Berkshire: As an official residence of the Queen, Windsor Castle's image is protected.
- The Beatles Statue, Liverpool: While not a building, this famous statue commemorating The Beatles is a trademarked landmark.
- Edinburgh Castle, Scotland: A historic fortress dominating the skyline of Edinburgh, its image is trademarked.
- The Lloyd's Building, London: Known for its unique architectural design, the Lloyd's Building in London's financial district is trademarked.
- Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester: This iconic football stadium's image is trademarked <— This one stunned me!
- The University of Cambridge, Cambridge: The historic and architectural elements of this prestigious university are protected, including its iconic buildings.
- The University of Oxford, Oxford: Similar to Cambridge, the University of Oxford's historic buildings are trademarked.
Famous Trademarked Buildings in the USA
- Empire State Building, New York: One of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world, the Empire State Building's image is trademarked. The owners have been known to enforce their trademark rights rigorously.
- Hollywood Sign, California: While not a building, this famous sign is a cultural icon and its image is trademarked. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds the trademark rights.
- Chrysler Building, New York: This Art Deco masterpiece is another trademarked building in New York City, known for its distinctive style and presence in the city's skyline.
- Rockefeller Center, New York: This large complex, famous for its Christmas tree and ice skating rink, has several of its buildings and the overall image trademarked.
- Flatiron Building, New York: Known for its unique triangular shape, the Flatiron Building is another trademarked structure in New York City.
- The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles: Designed by Frank Gehry, this modern architectural marvel is trademarked by the Walt Disney Family Foundation.
- Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco: This pyramid-shaped skyscraper is a distinctive part of the San Francisco skyline and its image is trademarked.
- Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Chicago: Once the world's tallest building, the Willis Tower is a trademarked structure in Chicago.
- The Guggenheim Museum, New York: This unique museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is not only an architectural landmark but also a trademarked building.
- The White House, Washington D.C.: As the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States, the image of the White House is also protected.
- Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles: This iconic observatory, featured in many films and TV shows, has its image trademarked.
- The Glass House, Connecticut: Designed by Philip Johnson, this historic house is a notable example of modern architecture and its image is trademarked.
Famous Trademarked Buildings in Canada
- CN Tower, Toronto: One of Canada's most iconic landmarks, the CN Tower is a symbol of Toronto and its image is trademarked.
- Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto: Known for its unique architecture, especially the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the ROM has trademarked its distinctive design.
- Habitat 67, Montreal: This unique residential complex, created for Expo 67, is a significant architectural landmark and its design is trademarked.
- Canada Place, Vancouver: Recognizable for its sail-like design, Canada Place is a landmark building in Vancouver with a trademarked image.
- Château Frontenac, Quebec City: This historic hotel's unique château-style architecture is a symbol of Quebec City and is trademarked.
- Calgary Tower, Calgary: A major landmark of Calgary, the tower's image is trademarked.
- Olympic Stadium, Montreal: Known for its unique design and as a symbol of the 1976 Olympics, the stadium's image is trademarked.
- Parliament Hill, Ottawa: The buildings of Canada's parliamentary complex, including the iconic Peace Tower, are trademarked.
- Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto: The AGO, particularly after its redesign by Frank Gehry, has a distinctive architectural style that is trademarked.
- The West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton: While primarily a shopping center, its unique design and status as a major tourist attraction have led to its image being trademarked.
Famous Trademarked Buildings (and Landmarks) in Africa
It's important to note that the concept of intellectual property, including trademarks, can be applied differently in various jurisdictions. In many African countries, the protection of cultural heritage and significant landmarks may not always align with the concept of trademark as understood in Western legal systems. Instead, these sites are often protected under different sets of cultural, historical, or heritage laws.
- Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa: While not a building, Table Mountain is a significant landmark and its image is closely associated with Cape Town. It's a well-protected and recognized symbol, though its trademark status may vary.
- Pyramids of Giza, Egypt: One of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Pyramids, especially the Great Pyramid of Giza, are iconic symbols of Egypt. While not traditionally trademarked in the way a commercial logo would be, their image is protected and commercial use is often regulated.
- FNB Stadium (Soccer City), Johannesburg, South Africa: Known for hosting the FIFA World Cup Final in 2010, this stadium has a distinctive design and is an important symbol in South African sports.
- Kasubi Tombs, Uganda: These are the burial grounds for the kings of Buganda and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site has cultural significance and its image is protected.
- Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa: This museum, significant for its historical and cultural importance in South Africa, may have protections over its use in commercial media.
- Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa: The official seat of the South African government and the site of presidential inaugurations, the Union Buildings are an important national symbol.
- Mausoleum of Agostinho Neto, Luanda, Angola: As a monument dedicated to the first President of Angola, Agostinho Neto, this mausoleum holds significant cultural and historical value.
- African Renaissance Monument, Dakar, Senegal: This is the tallest statue in Africa and is a significant symbol of African unity and progress.
Famous Trademarked Buildings (and Landmarks) in Australia
- Sydney Opera House, Sydney: Perhaps Australia's most iconic building, the Sydney Opera House's unique design is trademarked. Commercial use of its image requires permission.
- Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne: This major sports stadium is an iconic symbol of Melbourne and Australian sport. Its image is protected, particularly for commercial use.
- Harbour Bridge, Sydney: Another symbol of Sydney, the Harbour Bridge's image is often subject to copyright and trademark protections, especially in commercial contexts.
- Federation Square, Melbourne: As a significant public space and cultural area in Melbourne, Federation Square's unique architectural design is protected.
- Parliament House, Canberra: The home of Australia's Parliament, this building's distinct design is protected, and its image is often controlled for commercial use.
- Q1 Tower, Gold Coast: Known as one of the tallest residential towers in the world, the Q1 Tower's image is protected.
- Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne: A World Heritage Site, this building's image is protected, especially for commercial purposes.
- The Twelve Apostles, Victoria: While not a building, this natural landmark is one of Australia's most famous tourist attractions, and images of it are often subject to copyright, particularly for commercial use.
- The Great Barrier Reef: Again, not a building, but as a significant natural landmark, the Great Barrier Reef is protected, and commercial use of its images is regulated.
- The ‘G', Melbourne: The nickname for the Melbourne Cricket Ground, often used in a commercial context, is trademarked.
Famous Trademarked Buildings (and Landmarks) in Asia
- Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE: The world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa's image is trademarked and its commercial use is regulated.
- Marina Bay Sands, Singapore: This iconic hotel and its unique design are trademarked, and commercial use of its image requires permission.
- Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Once the tallest buildings in the world, the Petronas Towers are trademarked, and their image is closely guarded for commercial use.
- Taj Mahal, Agra, India: While not a commercial building, the Taj Mahal's image is protected, and commercial use of its photographs is often restricted.
- Tokyo Tower, Japan: This iconic landmark in Tokyo is trademarked, and its image is controlled for commercial purposes.
- The Great Wall of China: As one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Great Wall's image is protected, particularly for commercial use.
- Lotus Temple, New Delhi, India: Known for its distinctive lotus-like design, the Lotus Temple's image is protected.
- Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan: Once the world's tallest building, Taipei 101's image is trademarked.
- The Forbidden City, Beijing, China: This historic palace complex has protections on its image, especially in relation to commercial use.
- Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong: While not a single building, the iconic skyline view of Victoria Harbour is often subject to image rights and protections, particularly for commercial use.
- Borobudur Temple, Indonesia: This famous Buddhist temple in Indonesia has protections over its image, especially for commercial purposes.
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia: This iconic temple complex is a significant cultural landmark, and its image is protected.
Why Are Buildings Trademarked?
The primary reason for trademarking a building or landmark is to control its commercial use. This can include everything from postcards and souvenirs to advertisements and corporate logos. The revenue generated from licensing fees can be substantial and is often used for the maintenance and preservation of these landmarks.
If you intend to use the image or likeness of a trademarked building for commercial purposes, it's crucial to obtain the necessary permissions or licences. Failure to do so could result in legal action.
Trademarking buildings and landmarks is a practice that has both cultural and economic implications. It serves as a way to protect the identity and integrity of these iconic structures while also generating revenue that can be reinvested in their upkeep.
So, the next time you're snapping photos of these architectural marvels and thinking where you can use them in your marketing, remember that while capturing their beauty is free, commercialising that beauty might come with a price tag.