When the first trailer for Christopher Nolan‘s new film Tenet came along, it arrived with a simple, slick title logo that inverted the last two letters in the title, referencing the “time inversion” that’s at the center of the movie’s plot. However, that logo looks almost exactly the same as one used by a bicycle components company based out of Washington, and since they were first on the scene with the logo design, Warner Bros. Pictures has changed the film’s logo, as evidenced by the end of the recent trailer.
Here’s an Instagram post made by Tenet Components back on December 19, 2019 when the first trailer dropped:
View this post on Instagram
𝟱/𝟮𝟱/𝟮𝟬 𝗨𝗣𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗘: 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗜 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗶𝗴𝗵𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗶𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝘆 𝟲 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵𝘀 𝗼𝗹𝗱. 𝗦𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗠𝗿. 𝗡𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗪𝗕 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘂𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻. 𝗜𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗠𝗿. 𝗡𝗼𝗹𝗮𝗻’𝘀 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗹𝗹 𝗮𝘀 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗹𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗿𝗲𝘁𝘆 𝘄𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘄𝗲𝗯𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗲. • ORIGINAL POST FROM 2019 -> No, despite the striking similarities, we are not making a movie with Christopher Nolan. Maybe it was a coincidence, or maybe Nolan was inspired by our branding; regardless the apparent negligence is frustrating to say the least. Thank you to all the people that have reached out in support of Tenet (the bike brand). When we became aware of this, our biggest fear was that many of our peers who haven’t heard of Tenet (the bike brand, shit this is going to get old quick) might think WE stole the logo from Nolan, when in reality, we launched long before this movie was announced. If you would like to share this post to help spread the word, it would be greatly appreciated. I’m sure one day we’ll all look back on this and shake our heads in disbelief. #supportriderowned #damntheman
The day after the first trailer with the film’s logo went live, the biking website Pinkbike (via The Playlist) reached out to Tenet Components so they could clear the air and make sure everyone understood that their logo was not stolen from the film. Owner Tyler Deschaine made this statement to the site:
“We were granted the trademark for “Tenet” in the bicycle world on October 9th, 2018. In trademark law, that only protects us from word use within our industry. I don’t have any issue with them using the word Tenet, there are thousands of trademarks for that word across dozens of industries. My issue is with the stylization, but that is neither here nor there. I’ve spoken with lawyers and despite the validity of my concerns, I’ve been advised not to pursue it. Even sending a letter could potentially open myself up to a preemptive lawsuit from Warner Brothers. These sorts of things can get dragged on for years and the legal fees can go well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re a tiny component company that is taking baby steps to carve out a place for ourselves in the industry. We in no way want to get raked through the coals of litigation. That would end poorly for us. Also, we’ve got more important things to focus on, like developing new product and creating rad content.
I want to make it clear that I never thought of this scenario as a get rich quick scheme. At the end of the day I just want to avoid potential damages to my brand’s reputation and I suppose this article will help clear the air. Thank you Pinkbike for reaching out and giving the little guy a bigger voice. Now go see Tenet and think of us while the logo is spinning in front of your face.”
The same day this statement went public, Warner Bros. reached out to Deschaine for his e-mail, and he received this kind response from director Christopher Nolan himself about the issue, which is posted for everyone to easily see on the business website:
Warners just showed me the logo for your company, so I wanted to reach out directly and reassure you that our logo was arrived at without reference to yours. I know this because I designed ours myself, evolving it over the last six years, driven by a fascination with the symmetries of a word which is central to my story and its themes. I thought I’d done something unique – but clearly you were driven by the same creative impulse. I guess lightning can strike twice, and obviously I understand that you would not want anyone thinking that you had been inspired by our movie’s title treatment – feel free to quote me in shooting such misunderstandings down. I love our logo so I hope you won’t feel this is necessary, but if you like, I can stop using it since it seems you went public with yours first.
At least both Deschaine and Nolan came at this coincidence rationally and neither was bitter or angry about the scenario. However, it would seem that Deschaine preferred that the studio not use the partially inverted logo for Tenet since the most recent trailer used this for the title card instead:
It’s a shame that they couldn’t figure out a drastically different font to use instead so it was clear that one wasn’t derived from the other, but it’s likely the positioning of the letters that Deschaine is worried about being confusing. Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, I guess. Maybe Nolan can invert time and go back and stop Tenet Components from using the logo before him. Is that how time inversion works? We have no idea.
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