The reunification of Carl Zeiss 20 years ago is also reflected in today’s corporate logo. It is a combination of the corporate logos used by the Carl Zeiss companies in the East and the West while Germany was divided. The different development of the trademarks reflects the separate development of the two companies during that period.
Starting in 1906, the so called ZEISS lens was found on nearly all devices and printed materials produced by Carl Zeiss. To maintain the intellectual property rights, the logo is still used today in individual corporate divisions, e.g. on the brass plates bearing the serial numbers of the planetarium projectors.
The lens frame of the earlier company logo was shaped like the rear part of the famous Tessar camera lens. It was designed by Emil Dönitz, the head of the patent division of Carl Zeiss, in 1902. The logotype was presumably created by the artist Erich Kuithan, who moved to Jena in 1903. In May 1904 the trademark was filed with the Imperial Patent Office and recorded in the trademark register.
The lens became the trademark for high-performance optical and precision mechanical equipment. This was also reflected in the multitudinous imitations: other companies wanted to benefit from the renown of the Carl Zeiss instruments. See the Imitation of the lens trademark by a Dutch company from the 1920s.
Various subsidiaries of Carl Zeiss, such as Zeiss Ikon AG, in which Carl Zeiss held a majority interest, were using different versions of the lens logo as early as the 1920s.
After World War II, the Zeissians who had been relocated to West Germany by the Americans founded the Zeiss-Opton-Werk in Oberkochen, Wuerttemberg, with the support of the colleagues in the East German Jena. Logically, as with Zeiss Ikon, the trademark was adapted for the new company.
In February 1954 Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen filed a lawsuit against Carl Zeiss in Jena to prevent the latter from continuing to use the name Carl Zeiss, the lens logo and other trademarks as well as product names in the Federal Republic of Germany. This resulted in the longest court case in the history of the German Democratic Republic.
Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen then took an independent course and wherever it was legally permissible called itself simply “Carl Zeiss” from that point on. The design of the lens changed accordingly. The word “Jena” was removed. In its place stood “Carl” in the upper, tapering part of the lens, with “Zeiss” below.
After nearly 18 years of litigation, the London Agreement of April 1971 specified how the trademarks and the company name of Carl Zeiss were to be used in East and West Germany. Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen and VEB Carl Zeiss Jena divided the global hemispheres between them for business purposes and each agreed not to use the ZEISS brand in the respective other half of the world. The Oberkochen-based company operated in the Eastern Bloc countries under the name “Opton”. VEB Carl Zeiss Jena used the name “Jenoptik” and the trademark “aus Jena” (from Jena) in the Western countries.
VEB Carl Zeiss Jena used this logo in Western countries.
In accordance with the London Agreement, the two companies in Oberkochen and Jena clearly differentiated their logos. Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen used only the ZEISS logotype in strikingly angular letters.
In the late 1970s the word was then integrated into a square. To distinguish the company clearly from the one in Jena, “West Germany” was added as the designation of origin. In Jena, on the other hand, the lens was preserved until reunification.
The reunification of the Carl Zeiss company in 1991 was also to be reflected in a common logo. A new composite trademark for the Carl Zeiss Group was created in 1993/94 - the blue ZEISS logo. Both the square and the lens are used in this logo. The lower line of the square is replaced by the curve of the lens. Moreover, the ZEISS logo was modernized with rounded letters.
Today’s familiar logo has been used since 1997. The current blue (Pantone Reflex Blue C) has replaced the earlier, lighter blue.