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Royal Wedding, will thou be copyright infringed?


Zara Niemand - Business Litigation

It’s April 29th, you have taken three days off and received eleven in return, your feet are up and you’re just about tune into one of the most momentous events of the year, surely you won’t be thinking about the legal issues involved?

CAP Code

Shortly after Prince William announced the news, CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) highlighted how it intended to control advertisements referring to the wedding.

It stated that there should be no suggestion of endorsement by an individual without their consent (6.1). CAP also advised that there should be no mention of members of the Royal Family without their consent (6.2), and use of the Royal Arms or emblems without permission (3.52).

More recently Prince William has relaxed the rules governing the commercial use of Royal photographs and insignia to commemorate the engagement and marriage, however there are still guidelines that must be followed.


Are you thinking of producing a commemorative plate and you would like to place it in a particular magazine?

Clarence House has recently published guidance on the sale of souvenir products or articles of a permanent kind specifically designed to commemorate the Marriage and devices specifically (a) Approved photographs of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton and (b) The full Coat of Arms of HRH Prince William of Wales.

Manufacturers may utilise a number of approved phrases, such as To Commemorate the Marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton, 29th April 2011.

These products must be (a) In good taste, (b) Free from any form of advertisement and (c) Carry no implication of Royal custom or approval.

Interestingly, Royal Devices should not be used on textiles such as T-shirts, drying up cloths and aprons. However, they may be used on carpets, cushions, wall hangings and head scarves.

Commemorative coins (those that are not currency) and medallions in this instance also qualify as souvenirs.

Don’t forget the time limits, as products may not be manufactured after October 1st 2011.


At last years World Cup in South Africa, 36 female Holland fans were arrested for intentionally promoting an unlicensed beer brand, also known as ‘ambush marketing.

Similarly at the 2008 Olympic Games, Adidas watched on as Li Ning opened the ceremony whilst publicising another major sports company, despite them being a major sponsor of the games.

With no official sponsors of the big day, companies may see this as an opportunity to take advantage of the intense media coverage. Despite there being no strict rules to stop such tactics it is unlikely that giant corporate banners or mass PR stunts for example will be allowed to overshadow events leading up, during to and after the ceremony.

Royal Warrants

A Royal Warrant is the mark of recognition given to an individual or business who has supplied goods or services for at least five years to the Royal Family. Like other prestigious accreditations the Royal Warrant is not given out easily and there are a number of legal implications for passing off such a distinction.

This too is dealt with under the CAP Code (3.52) which states:

Marketing communications must not use the Royal Arms or Emblems without prior permission from the Lord Chamberlain office. References to a Royal Warrant should be checked with the Royal Warrant Holders Association.

Online IP issues

It has been noted in the last few weeks that Spammers are looking to take advantage of the big day by enticing users to follow links that ultimately lead to product related pages, and not always ones related to Royal Wedding memorabilia.

One report states that E-mails advertising a replica of Princess Dianas engagement ring were observed¬Ě.

The guidance reports produced are lengthy and the law surrounding these issues are complex so if you require advice or need further information please contact Intellectual Property expert Keith Arrowsmith at Ralli on 0161 615 0688 or on