Back in November, in this thread:
we were talking about the possibility of using the London Underground 
roundel on map renderings. I said I would contact them.

My first contact went unanswered, but I chased it up again recently and 
after an email exchange I spoke to them on the phone as well.

Yes, we have permission use it in principle, providing it is reproduced 
per their design (which is the obvious red circle with a blue bar 
through it). I have their official file.

They also sent a set of design guidelines (as most 
companies/organisations do when you want to use their logo). But these 
are aimed at leaflets and stationery etc, not maps, a suprising omission 
(they require, for example, 25% of the logo size as clear border all 
round). I discussed this with them on the phone (this mail can serve as 
a record of that conversation) and they said in our context it is OK to 
just put a white border around it following the contour of the logo of 
say 50%-100% the width of the ring/bar, rather like we do for text 
captions now, just so it is distinctly separated from the background. 
(They are going to think about revising their guidelines so it takes 
this kind of use into account).

I did point out that A-Z maps use their logo in similar contexts. What 
we mustn't do is use a dark rule around it or, as A-Z and some others 
do, put a rule around the whole blue bar as well. A-Z is infringing 
their guidelines on the central area maps! On the smaller scale maps, 
they (A-Z) are more or less right, but in some cases the white exclusion 
zone is not present or very hard to see.

So good news in principle. Whether we do it in practice is up to whoever 
wants to play with mapnik, and whether the operator tags on LU stations 
are consistent enough for this to be applied to LU and no other metro. I 
could put in a trac request for it.

N.B. I asked in the context of our Mapnik rendering. I see no problem in 
TAH as well. But as CloudMade is a commercial company, I think it would 
be unwise to just do it in CloudMade renderings (and likewise others) 
without them approaching TfL themselves. There's a request form here:
I don't think there would be a problem, they seem very friendly, and A-Z 
is a precedent.

I've appended below what I asked (their form ignored my newlines, sorry).


I'm writing to ask you about the use of the London Underground roundel 
logo to indicate tube station positions on a map produced for 
OpenStreetMap. We know that this is copyrighted and trademarked and it 
is important for the aims of our project that we don't infringe other 
people's intellectual property. OpenStreetMap ( is 
an initiative to create maps from scratch free of the restrictions 
normally associated with maps. It is in effect a "wikipedia for maps". 
There are two aspects to this: firstly the map data is stored in a 
database in an encoded form, and that is OpenStreetMaps primary asset, 
and is not an issue here; secondly, any number of different renderings 
of style and content can be produced from that data, a key example being 
the map that you see by default on the OpenStreetMap web site (we know 
this internally as the "Mapnik rendering") as linked above. We have been 
discussing on our mailing lists recently about how to represent metro 
stations. At present Mapnik uses a generic off-blue square (for example, 
Chancery lane, here: ). This applies 
throughout the world. However, we'd like to customize this for 
particular metro systems, and in London that should obviously be the 
London Underground red and blue roundel instead of the blue square. So 
my questions are: 1. Is this something we can just do, or do we need 
permission to use the symbol? 2. Are you able to give permission for 
this use? 3. Would using it require an acknowledgement? (This might be 
impractical on the map itself, given the number of metro systems in the 
world, let alone the number of other potentially customizable logos for 
shops, hotels etc, but might be possible on a separately linked page). 
Things to bear in mind: (a) our maps are licensed CCbySA 
(, that is, in essence, 
anyone can reproduce them free of charge providing the same restrictions 
are applied to their copy ("share alike"), and freely available for 
commercial and non-commercial uses. (b) there is no question of storing 
the logo in the data itself, merely drawing it on a pictorial 
representation of the data; that would involve storing a copy in or with 
the software that generates the rendering (which I think could be 
accompanied by acknowledgement/restriction/ copyright/trademark 
information as appropriate) (c) this is a service to map consumers: it 
must surely be of benefit to TfL that map users can identify Underground 
stations on maps. (d) maps may be reproduced on paper and on other 
websites, either by copying, or deep linking to the original (e) other 
renderings styles and software may want to do the same thing. (f) we 
cannot enter into a license agreement that would compromise the ability 
of people to use and reproduce the maps freely, though in a license 
agreement that permits the use we need may be possible. We'd much prefer 
a simple permission if possible though. (g) I'm just enquiring on behalf 
of our mailing list users at present. If something more formal is 
needed, we'd have to decide how to manage that. (h) it is unlikely we 
could justify paying for this, especially in view of the precedent it 
might set for the huge range of other possible features on the map. I 
imagine that e.g. Starbucks would be more than happy for us to use their 
logo to show their store locations on the map were we to ask them, as 
essentially free advertising, and I do hope TfL might be able to take 
that position also. Many thanks, David Earl

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