I was strolling through the mall above Shibuya Station in Tokyo when I took this photograph. This was not the first time I had seen this logo, in more ways than one.
Index is a chain of woman's clothing stores in Japan. Two days prior, while in Himeji, I had seen the same logo outside a small arcade of shops. There are all sorts of small stores and products I saw around Japan that played homage to, or playfully lifted elements from, beloved American logos, and I had assumed this was a small-town store riffing off one of the most highly known international brands. But no: this was a national chain, in a global market where FedEx had a decent presence, whose branding was a clear theft.
This kind of situation doesn't really hit home for most designers until they see their work reproduced in the wild. Then there's this weird admixture of flattery -- "Wow, they must have really liked my work" -- with the following contradictory thought: "Couldn't they think of something more appropriate for their company?" Stealing a logo says that your brand doesn't have its own unique spirit. Sure, you could also argue that you can't own an arrow denoted as white space between an "E" and an "x", but when you use the same font, the jig is up. You're busted.
Some of my bandmates work at an intellectual property law firm, where they deal with these sorts of issues all the time. You send the infringing company a letter outlining the infringement. if they ignore it, you send them another letter. Then, after a few more warnings and threats, you subpoena them, haul them into court, and duke it out with your lawyers.
This is very easy process for a designer or company to do, as long as you have two million dollars, unlimited time and energy to devote to the effort, and a willingness to risk that even after the trial, you won't see a cent from winning your case.
I sent FedEx Media Relations an email with this photograph asking how they handle such cases, but they haven't responded for comment.