Belgian designer to continue Olympics logo lawsuit despite theater’s exit


A Belgian graphic designer will press on with a court case against the International Olympic Committee over a logo for the Tokyo 2020 Games despite the withdrawal of a key co-plaintiff, his lawyer said.

Olivier Debie filed a lawsuit in a Belgian court in August alleging that Kenjiro Sano’s Olympic design was plagiarized from the logo Debie made for a theater in the Belgian city of Liege.

Just hours before a preliminary hearing Monday, the theater announced it was dropping out of the case.

“The Theatre de Liege, copyright holder of its logo, has decided to waive the pending procedure in Liege against the IOC,” the theater company said in a statement.

“After examining the pleas and evidence submitted by the IOC and the definitive withdrawal of Mr. Sano’s logo, (the theater) acknowledges that the disputed emblem, regardless of any similarity with its logo, is not breaching its rights,” it said.

Debie’s lawyer, Philippe Mottard, however, said later Monday his client is still pursuing the case.

Mottard said Debie is refusing settlement “under any circumstances” as long as the IOC fails to admit to plagiarism.

Last month the Tokyo Olympic committee dropped the scandal-hit logo but insisted the move was not in response to the legal action and that the designs were different.

The first hearing of the case is to take place in a civil court in Liege, with a decision due in the coming weeks or months.

In September, Debie said: “Plagiarism is impossible to prove, but the facts are there: the layout and the typography are virtually identical. When I see the Tokyo 2020 logo, I say to myself, that’s the logo I created in 2011.”

Tokyo’s former emblem is based around the letter “T” — for Tokyo, tomorrow and team — with a red circle said to represent a beating heart. The Liege theater’s design features a similar shape in white against a black background, but without the circle.

Tokyo officials said their decision was due to unrelated problems, including evidence that Sano had improperly used Internet images to publicize his logo.

  • Chris Carino

    Ahh… but hurt flows through the designer’s ego.