The poppy is a registered trademark?

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Plastic lapel poppies. Photograph by Benoit Aubry (Ottawa, ON).

You’ve heard of reddit (purposely not capitalized), right? On Wikipedia, it’s listed as “a social news and entertainment website where registers users submit content” (yes I just quoted the reddit page on Wikipedia.

A Canadian “subreddit” (sub-page) on the website recently added the image of a poppy to their header banner in honour of Rememberance Day. They got a message from the Royal Canadian Legion stating that it was inappropriate for them to use the poppy on their header as it is a registered trademark of the Royal Canadian Legion and the subreddit cannot use it without permission.

In fact, the Royal Canadian Legion has a publication of 60+ pages entitled the Poppy Manual (click to view). It covers things such as when the poppy is to be used, the do’s and don’ts of the poppy trust funds, the poppy protocol and information about the Legion and the Remembrance Committee of the Legion. The document is extensive and encompassing in nature.

Do you think it is appropriate for the Royal Canadian Legion to approach this subreddit moderator and ask them to remove the trademarked poppy from their header banner and only display it upon gaining permission?

In my opinion, I think the Royal Canadian Legion is in its right to request for the removal of the poppy image from any website, publication, advertisement or other media in which it has been used without permission. Where the question might arise is the notion that the poppy is a national symbol of Remembrance and need not be formally institutionalized by one organization, where on the other hand, the whole of Canada, all its people and the international populations identify the poppy as a symbol of remembrance. But the fact that such institutionalization has taken place, it is the due responsibility of all peoples to respect that. Like any registered trademark, this particular symbol is institutionally owned by the Royal Legion of Canada and them asking the subreddit moderator to remove it because it was used without permission was okay to do.

What do you think?

For further reading, check out:

CBC News: Lauren O’Niel’s community blog post

Reddit: Why the poppy is gone from the header of r/Canada (commentary)

Royal Canadian Legion: Poppy Manual

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