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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 11:40 GMT
MoD's battle over RAF symbol
RAF Roundel
The roundel is at the centre of a fashion dispute
Clothing giant Arcadia Group is at war with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) - over the rights to use the red, white and blue target symbol.

The MoD has applied to the Patent Office to register the roundel symbol, which appears on all RAF aircraft, as its trademark for use on clothing lines.

However, the high street fashion group has issued a challenge, arguing the roundel was brought into the public domain by the Mod movement of the 1960s.

Arcadia Group, owner of Dorothy Perkins, Topshop and Burton, has enlisted the help of other clothing manufacturers, including The Lambretta Clothing Company, who have also used the motif on their products.

Squadron Leader Caroline Edie said she was aware of the opposition but was hopeful of success.

"The MoD as a whole has taken a policy to try and trademark the different things associated with the three services, obviously for the RAF it is the roundel."

If we generate an income it will be generating money for the taxman
Squadron Leader Caroline Edie

She said the roundel has never been registered and the MoD wanted to ensure the public associated the symbol with the RAF and its activities.

She admitted the MoD was also interested in the commercial potential of owning the trademark.

"If we generate an income it will be generating money for the taxman," she said.

A spokesman for Arcadia Group said: "The roundel has been in the public domain since the 1960s, when it was closely associated with the style of dress made famous by the Mod movement, riders of scooters bearing a plethora of lights and mirrors, wearers of fish-tailed parkas and the musical band, The Who.

"The symbol has been widely used on clothing since the 1960s by many different companies and individuals and Arcadia believes that the MoD should not now be entitled to monopolise use of such a generic symbol on clothing."

Robert Harmer, a director of Lambretta, said it was one of a number of clothes shops asked to provide evidence to help Arcadia's case.

"There is so much prior usage (of the roundel) that I can't believe the MoD have any hope of registration."

The Patent Office confirmed a hearing had taken place and the decision is expected in the next 12 weeks.

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