From his outspoken opinions to the heel-dragging charade that is his album release schedule, Kanye West is no stranger to controversy. But he's also managed to raise eyebrows in the design world too – and the latest brand to take issue with one of Ye's logos is none other than Walmart.
The company has taken issue with a sun-shaped logo (below) intended for use as part of Kanye's fashion label, Yeezy. Walmart says the logo, featuring a collection of dots in the shape of the sun's rays, is far too similar to its own sun-shaped logo, and that it will create "confusion" and a "false suggestion of a connection" to Walmart's brand. Maybe West and his team needed our guide to logo design.
Walmart has already had one attempt to block the logo quashed, but according to The Fashion Law (opens in new tab), it's doubling down on its efforts. After Yeezy successfully claimed that "Walmart certainly knows, as does the consuming public, that the last thing [Yeezy] wants to do is associate itself with [Walmart],” Walmart has amended its filing, "replacing its Deception/False Designation of Origin claim with a False Suggestion of a Connection claim".
The design is described (opens in new tab) in a patent filing as being 'eight dotted lines, each comprising three totally shaded circles, with a total of 24 circles, arranged at equal angles as rays from a sun'. When set next to Walmart's logo above it does look incredibly similar, but Walmart's logo has only six lines, which are much thicker. Plus, there is the fact it is made of dots rather than straight lines.
This is a complicated one to unpick. While the above images do look extremely comparable, especially in overall shape, it's worth pointing out that the Walmart graphic is presented here in black lines, making it look more similar than the yellow version found on signage, for example (as below). But the black line version could be seen on printouts (like receipts or other official documents) – which could be confusing, we guess?
Walmart says the trouble (opens in new tab) not only lies in the actual design of the logo, but in what Yeezy will be using it for. There's a (massively) long list of use cases encompassing the retail space, including clothing and retail services, musical sound recordings and streaming, video games, hotel services and more – many of which could apparently be included in Walmart's retail domain.
But according to Walmart, it isn't only the retail aspect that could cause confusion. The fact that the retail giant 'frequently partners with celebrities to create special lines of products and services' could provoke consumers to assume a connection when they see the logo design, complicating things further.
We'll look forward to finding out the ruling on this case. We're pretty sure it won't be as clear-cut as Chanel's disappointment over its case against Huwaei's new logo design (that was a truly bizarre one), or as Amazon's objection to this charity shop's logo – but we may be proved wrong.