Alleged stolen logo threatens to spoil Botswana 50th birthday party

07 Mar 2016

Preparations for Botswana’s golden jubilee celebrations will be paralysed should it be proved that Botswana plagiarised Jamaica’s 5oth independence anniversary logo – Bots 50 Chairperson Boyce Sebetela told Sunday Standard this week.

Bots 50 this week bowed to public pressure to investigate allegations that the country’s 50th Independence anniversary logo may have been stolen from Jamaica’s 50 independence anniversary logo.

News that Botswana may have stolen the Jamaican 50th independence anniversary logo was leaked on social media and started to trend on Facebook this week. This touched off a national call on the preparatory committee that has been set up named Botswana Fifty Anniversary Coordination unity abbreviated as Bots 50 secretariat to take responsibility for the plagiarised logo.

The World Wide Web and phone in lines for a local radio station morning show that had hosted discussions on the alleged copyright infringement were jammed by messages demanding an investigation into the alleged piracy.

While he insisted that they believe there is nothing untoward, the Chairman of the Committee Boyce Sebetlela told Sunday Standard on Friday that they are not taking the issue lightly.

“As Bots 50 committee we will investigate to establish if indeed there was any violation of intellectual property. Because in our understanding plagiarism means copying something word for word or idea for an idea, but to the best of my knowledge there is no violation of intellectual property,” he said.

Sebetlela added that “generally logos are inspired by other logos, so we believe that there is no plagiarism. We have been mandated to do the preparations by the Government and we cannot engage in illegal things.” 

He denied allegations that there was a company that was contracted to do the designs saying “it was designed in house by our staff.”

“It is not true that there was a company contracted to design the logo and was paid P3 million,” said Sebetlela.

While he insisted that logos are inspired by others, Sebetlela conceded that the Bots 50 Independence Anniversary symbols bear a striking similarity to that of the Jamaican logo.

The only noticeable difference is that instead of using a bird the designers of the Botswana logo used a Zebra. The Official logo for Jamaica's 50th anniversary independence celebration includes flag and indigenous Doctor Bird, the national bird of the island.  The Jamaican logo designers used black, green and yellow colours while Bots 50 has been running a number of adverts on the state run Btv showing a similar log except that it has blue and black colours only and the head of a Zebra.

Defending the designers of the logo, Sebetlela cited a number of logos and flags that have striking similarities and reiterated that logos and flags are inspired by others. He cited the logo for Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency which has uncanny similarity with Brand Botswana logo, the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which has a striking similarity with Connecting America for Better Life.

“Even Jaguar and Puma have logos that have a striking similarity, so logos just like flags are inspired by others,” he argued.

He said should the issue of violation of intellectual property be verified and established this will have the possibility of jeopardising their ongoing preparations.

“Our preparations are at an advanced stage. It would be late to run an advert inviting companies to tender. Remember that tendering for the government is not an event but a process,” he said.

The Jamaican Government had not responded to Sunday Standard queries at the time of going to press.

But reports from Jamaican media reveal that Director of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, Robert Bryan has since warned that persons could face legal action if they use the Jamaica 50th anniversary logo without permission.

Bryan is quoted as saying that the logo, which has been rebranded with a new trademark and carries the slogan, 'Proudly Celebrating Jamaica 50', is protected by copyright law.