London Gatwick Airport's new owner is having to pay around £1.5 million ($2.3 million) to change the long-established yellow-and-black signage around the terminal.

Global Infrastructure Partners is being forced to amend the signs because former owner BAA holds copyright over the shade of yellow and the style of black lettering.

While accepting that there is "an intellectual property issue pertaining to the colour and typeface", a Gatwick spokesman says the issue was known when GIP paid Spanish-owned BAA £1.5 billion for the airport in late 2009.

The necessity of changing the 'wayfinding signage' and other notices gives Gatwick an opportunity to differentiate itself from London Heathrow and Stansted airports, he insists.

Gatwick was sold after a ruling by the UK's Competition Commission that passengers were suffering from a lack of competition between the capital's airports.

"We're taking a fresh look at Gatwick's brand identity," says the airport's spokesman. "Gatwick Airport's brand needs to be much stronger, to make it stand out." Even if copyright issues had not arisen, he says: "I think under the new ownership we'd have been doing this anyway."

While the new look has not yet been decided, he says, trials with possible colour and lettering combinations have been undertaken in the airport's south terminal and there have been extensive consultations with passengers and airlines.

"In recent months, where we've needed to put up new signs we've used a slightly different shade of yellow and typeface," he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news