DUBAI // A Dubai-based firm that placed the British royal coat of arms on its website as a symbol of national identity has been slapped with a warning from Buckingham Palace.
Officials say that using Queen Elizabeth II's official crest without permission could be viewed as a trademark violation.
The company, British Highways and Roads, displays lion and unicorn heraldic elements on its website, along with a falcon representing the UAE.
"I'm wasn't trying to steal anyone's copyright," said the director of the company, who did not want to give his name. "I'm proud to be British and I'm flying the British flag."
Normally, the royal coat of arms can be used by special appointment only. An organisation called the Royal Warrant Holders Association provides an up-to-date list of officials suppliers to the royal household, and they have the right to use the coat of arms.
"I can say with absolute certainty that this company is not a member of our association," said Pippa Dutton, assistant secretary to the association. "In order to use the coat of arms they have to first get permission from the Lord Chamberlain's office."
Officials at the Lord Chamberlain's office did not return calls, but a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said it was an offence under the trademarks act to use the royal coat of arms without permission.
"If it's not able to be used in the UK, then the same rule will apply abroad," said a spokeswoman with the Lord Chamberlain's office, Meryl Keeling. "It's difficult to implement that, though, especially internationally."
The director of British Highways said that he had not intended to deceive anyone. The company's website does not state that the company has received a royal appointment, and the crest is there he only as a patriotic symbol, he said.
"The people here wouldn't even know that it means by royal appointment," he said. "It's like putting a British flag on your company logo. Lot's of people do that, too. Is that wrong as well?"
The Crown and Lion pub, located in the Byblos Hotel in Dubai, also uses a royal crest. However, the pub's manager, Craig Leader, was quick to point out that it is not Queen Elizabeth II's crest.
"Instead of having a lion and a unicorn it has two lions," said Mr Leader. "It is a crest, but it's not the royal family's crest."
Persecution involving such violations is rare in the UK. However, three years ago the Lord Chamberlain's office sent warnings to jewelers in Wales warning them to stop using the three feathers royal crest, which is the emblem of the Prince of Wales.
Many people objected to the order on the grounds that the crest, which is used on rugby shirts, business logos and stationery, among other items, is as much a symbol of Wales as it is of the royal family.