Nissan to take legal action against Vote Leave campaign over use of company logo on EU referendum literature

Nissan has said it is to take legal proceedings against the Vote Leave campaign over use of its logo on EU referendum literature.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 1:39 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2016, 4:38 pm

A statement from the car giant, which employs around 6,000 people at its Wearside plant, read: "We were extremely disappointed to discover that the Vote Leave campaign had been using the Nissan name and logo in their literature and on their website without our permission. We immediately requested that they stop doing so.

"It has since come to light that the Vote Leave campaign continue to use our logo and trademark despite our repeated requests for them to stop.

"Permission to use our name and logo was not requested. If it was, it would not have been granted. Furthermore, use of the Nissan name and logo by the Vote Leave campaign in their materials grossly misrepresents our widely circulated and publicly stated position announced on 23rd February 2016.

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"To be clear, Nissan is not supporting any political campaign regarding this most serious of issues. This is a matter for the people of the UK to decide.

"We vigorously protect the Nissan brand and intellectual property in all markets in which we operate. We have repeatedly asked Vote Leave to stop using our name and logo on their materials and to stop misrepresenting our views – a request that has clearly been denied.

"As such, we will be issuing legal proceedings today [June 20th] in the High Court asking for an injunction to stop Vote Leave’s use of Nissan’s name and logo, and to prevent them from making any further false statements and misrepresentations concerning Nissan."

The news came as the chairman of Nissan Europe, Paul Willcox, wrote to all employees ahead of Thursday's vote.

He said: "This week, the British people will go to the polls to decide whether the UK remains part of the European Union. I'll be casting my own vote on Thursday when I fly back home to the UK from our European HQ in Rolle.

"In the run up to this most important of referendums, Nissan has been asked its position on the subject many times - by media, by government and by you, our employees.

"We've been crystal clear on what our position is. As a global company with a strong presence in Europe, our preference is that the UK stays as part of the European Union. That's because, as a business that operates in a competitive international environment, we prefer stability to a collection of unknowns.

"Unfortunately, in recent weeks the Leave Campaign has taken it upon itself to grossly misrepresent our position. They've taken Nissan executives’ quotes out of context, used our name to represent their cause, and used our logo and imagery on their website and on leaflets that have been distributed to many thousands of households right across the country. Many of you have received this leaflet yourselves and I’ve heard that some of you are confused about the implied association of Nissan.

"Despite repeated requests asking them to stop using our name and logo on their materials, the Leave Campaign has refused, and last week they printed yet another leaflet with our - and other companies - logo and name printed on it.

"We have therefore taken the decision to begin legal action against the Leave Campaign for trademark and copyright infringement and misrepresentation. This was not a decision we took lightly, but we must protect our intellectual property, the Nissan brand and all that it stands for.

"Be clear, as your employer, it is not Nissan's place to tell you how to vote. We have not supported either campaign and have purposefully tried to stay out of the media spotlight on this issue.

"On Thursday, it is important that you do what you believe is right for you, your family and your future. For some of you that will be to vote for the UK to remain in the European Union. For others it will be for the UK to leave the European Union.

"However in an environment where it's difficult to ascertain the truth and where certain elements of the political establishment have, regrettably, actively misrepresented our position, I thought you would appreciate me putting the record straight.

"I do hope you appreciate this mail, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you again on Friday morning, whatever the result."