The entrepreneur behind the City of Chilliwack's logo said he was left shocked and frustrated after he saw the City of Vancouver's brand new wordmark, which bears a resemblance to his 2011 creation.

Dan Mansell said a friend tagged him in a Facebook post about the Vancouver's new branding after it was approved by city councillors earlier this week. 

"I couldn't believe it," Mansell said. "I was really shocked."

The designer owns Basecamp Creative, a Chilliwack-based design company. He was commissioned to create the city's new branding six years ago.

The resulting logo, which features a mountain illustration inspired by the Fraser Valley's Cheam mountain range, was trademarked by city officials that same year.

Vancouver began plans to refresh its logo in June, according to a report, with the goal of creating something simpler and more social-media friendly.

'We share the same highway'

Mansell said he thinks the two designs are "too close to be a coincidence." 

"If this was a city in Australia, I wouldn't be so mad. If this was a city in a different part of Canada, whatever. But this ... we share the same highway."

city of vancouver logos

Three standard versions of Vancouver's new wordmark were created for use across city assets, which will be updated over the course of 2017. (City of Vancouver)

"My bet is that the designer was researching other city branding and looked at what I did with the City of Chilliwack and maybe subconsciously copied it or got too fixated [on it]," he said. "But I obviously don't know the process for sure."

Mansell said he submitted "four or five drafts" of the branding before it was ultimately approved by Chilliwack city council.

He declined to say how much he received for the project, but said it was "certainly less" than the $8,000 shelled out by Vancouver.

"That's the extra infuriating part," the designer said.

Trademark law

Mansell hasn't decided whether or not he'll pursue legal action but said he will be "exploring all of his options."

However, a Vancouver-based trademark lawyer says there might not be many options for the designer to explore.

Upon its completion, Mansell transferred copyright of the artwork to the City of Chilliwack.

Because he no longer owns rights to the artwork, it's unlikely the designer would have a successful copyright case, says former lawyer Andrei Mincov. 

Mincov said Chilliwack could pursue action against the City of Vancouver, but that "there may not be much that can be done."

"The use of a plain, publicly available font to depict the name of a city even if another city had been using the same font doesn't constitute trademark or copyright infringement," he said. "When Chilliwack's logo is viewed as a whole, its only protectable elements are the words 'City of Chilliwack' and the image of the mountain. The words are protected as a trademark — or, more specifically, an official mark. The mountain is protected as both copyright and a trademark.

"Neither of these elements is present in Vancouver's new logo."

CBC News has reached out to the City of Vancouver for comment. 

Corrections

  • A prior version of this story misidentified Andrei Mincov's occupation. He is in fact a former lawyer.
    Feb 25, 2017 1:58 PM PT