NEW YORK – Another work by Tokyo Olympics logo designer Kenjiro Sano is generating concern about plagiarism, this time in the United States, with an American artist saying he is considering legal action.
Sano’s design for the 2020 Games has prompted a lawsuit in Belgium alleging plagiarism of a logo for a theater, an accusation he denies. But he admitted last week that his team “traced” other people’s designs for eight of 30 promotional tote bags offered by a beverage company in an ongoing campaign through this month.
The latest case concerns Sano’s logo for a museum and library building being constructed in Ota, Gunma Prefecture. The design features circled dots and straight lines representing “BITO” in roman letters.
“BI” is taken from the first two letters of “bijutsukan,” the word for “museum” in Japanese, and “TO” from “toshokan,” or “library” in Japanese, according to information on the city’s website.
U.S. designer Josh Divine, who used circled dots and lines in his “Dot” logo released in 2011, said the two works “are very similar in style, proportion, color and shape.”
Sano’s creation for the museum “may be derivative of my work,” Divine said.
“I’m speaking with a lawyer but haven’t made a final decision regarding legal action,” he said in an email inquiry from Kyodo News.
Divine said, “Seeing someone take your hard work as their own is insulting.” He said that after reading about Sano and the allegations against him lately, “the alleged plagiarism seems blatant and intentional.”
One of Sano’s logos for the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Japan also drew concerns it plagiarizes a logo used by the National Museum of Costa Rica, prompting the zoo to request a probe. Sano’s office has denied that the logos are similar.