Sarah Moore, Pinkbike:
Tenet Components’ Tyler Deschaine is worried that people unfamiliar with the Bellingham, Washington based brand will think he ripped his logo from Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film Tenet when they see the similarity between the two. The 2020 science fiction spy action thriller film is written and directed by Christopher Nolan and produced by Nolan and Emma Thomas. When the two logos are placed side by side, the similarities are apparent.
He reached out to five different law firms about what his options were. While lawyers said he has legitimate concerns, in the trademark world, it’s difficult to challenge Warner Brothers since his trademark is in bicycle industry only. They also said, while it’s within his rights to post an Instagram story, it’s not worth him going after the trademark with a multimillion-dollar company.
When seen side by side, it’s hard to deny how similar the two logos are. Warner Brothers is a multibillion-dollar company, which gives them extraordinary power over a small bicycle components manufacturer. Nevertheless, after Deschaine posted a comparison on Instagram and Pinkbike covered the story, he heard from Christopher Nolan himself.
Tyler Deschaine, quoting a letter from Nolan:
[…] I thought I’d done something unique – but clearly you were driven by the same creative impulse. I guess lightning can strike twice, and obviously I understand that you would not want anyone thinking that you had been inspired by our movie’s title treatment – feel free to quote me in shooting such misunderstandings down. I love our logo so I hope you won’t feel this is necessary, but if you like, I can stop using it since it seems you went public with yours first.
Over the last six months we have consistently had instances of confusion — ranging from people mistaking our company vehicle as part of the film to asking where we bought our Tenet film merch while out and about in our brand shirts. One may think this sort of confusion is harmless, but if you read online articles that mention our brand you’ll find many comments insinuating that we have ripped off the film.
I thought the stylization of the film’s logo was pretty clever, especially given what little we know about its plot. But it seems as though Nolan made good on his promise to stop using it — the latest trailer features a more straightforward interpretation that does not evoke the logo of the cycling company.
Christopher Nolan and Warner Brothers have every legal right to continue to use the old logo, but it seems that Nolan felt a moral obligation not to. It’s not often that intellectual property cases show consideration, but this is one good example.