In interesting recent decision of the Council of Ministers is forcing Acleda Bank, Cambodia’s largest commercial bank, to change its logo because it was too similar to that of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Both logos feature a mythological golden bird in a circle, with Khmer script, but the similarities end there. Apparently this was too similar in the government’s view, and has given the bank three weeks to replace all its signage, at an expense of millions of dollars.

As quoted in the Phnom Penh Post, a government spokesman explained that many Cambodians who borrowed money from Acleda Bank were incorrectly led to believe, due to the similarities of the logos, that they were indebted to the government.

A search of the Trademark Registry reveals that Acleda Bank does not hold any marks covering the bird design. Interestingly, they did in the past though – the following mark was registered by the bank in 1999, and abandoned in 2014 (Reg. No. KH/12669/99):

Article 4(d) of the Trademark Law would likely prevent their registration of the bird design, as it would be an official sign or hallmark adopted by the government:

(d)-if it is identical with, or is an imitation of or contains as an element, an armorial bearing, flag and other emblem, a name or abbreviation or initials of the name of , or official sign or hallmark adopted by, any State, intergovernmental organization or organization created by an international convention, unless authorized by the competent authority of that State or organization;

It should be noted that this article would merely bar Acleda from registering the bird, rather than giving the government exclusivity itself.
On its website, Acleda Bank describes why it chose its logo as follows:

Traditionally, it is believed that this mythological bird is the king of birds (some called Mythological Golden Bird). She is a beautiful bird with her head, beak, neck, body, wings and legs that are perfect handsome from nature. Her exceptional beauty catches the eyes of people to look at and she can fly very high across long distances. She likes swimming, and finding food in water where it has a nice, cool weather and good environment.Furthermore, (in Khmer sound “horng”), name of the mythological bird, begins with (in Khmer sound “hor”) matching the word (in Khmer sound “he rargn vathu”) means Finance in line with the ACLEDA Securities’ objective to provide superior financial services relevant to securities sector.Actually, the above description is in line with the objectives of ACLEDA Securities Plc. that is respect for the law, honesty, and social welfare to contribute in economic development and to provide benefit to local and international regions.

The new logo of the bank is rather bland in comparison, hopefully it’s just an interim solution until they rebrand: