PUSH & PULL MANPush and Pull symbol symbols Pictures Sign Sticker Pushing Pulling

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USA DESIGN PATENT certificates and EU Registered Designs
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Push and Pull Man

Symbol and Pictogram Design Story

Ever Pushed a Pull Door or Pulled a Push Door?

I don't know if you've ever walked towards a shop, and found yourself struggling with the doors, trying to figure out

whether it was a PUSH or a PULL?

Whenever I ask people "Do you ever mix up push and pull?"

They often reply: "All the time!"

The different teams working on the venture...

A team of people worked to develop the symbols.

Jean as main advisor, Al for ideas roughed out and John to produce the polished digital versions of the symbols.

Patent attornies: Bob Gadsden registered the EU Designs and
Jennifer Meredith in the USA applied for and obtained the USA Design Patents.

Legal team for 2017 / 2018 court case was Al, consultant BJB and
Andrew Storch Solicitors, Reading.

Commercial plan and team for 2019 is now in the pipeline...

First Steps towards Creating the Symbols - The hand

During the creation and development of the symbols no other picture signs were in evidence either out on the street or on the internet. After the putting together the ideas and paper collages, John Szwenk created digital images of the signs.

The first idea was that of a hand pushing.

handnotagoodsignforpush After market testing it became clear that a hand in the construction industry means:



Three dimensional doors and frames with arrows

After the idea of just a hand for pulling, the next idea was to create a 3D door and frame arrangement.

The initial view about the 3D arrows and doors designs was that they were good and should be registered.

Unfortunately not many other people had the same view.

Market testing showed people could not understand the 3D designs! (FAIL!)

One man was so confused he even took the 3D picture and put it on its side to figure it out.

The conclusion was that two dimensional pictograms seem to be much better for signage.

Side on ideas for pushing and pulling

Talking to Jean Taylor one day, she put forward the idea of a figure leaning forward for pushing and leaning back for pulling.

push pull hand drawn ac The idea was to convey the energy of pushing and pulling.

I made some rough drawings of a 2D figure pushing and pulling.

From there the physiology needed to look similar to that of

"pushing a vehicle"


"pulling as if in a tug of war".

Adding a Push Character to the Arrow and Doors

black push figure

The next stage was to see if a push figure could be added

to the

"arrows and doors" picture.

Combining the Arrows and Doors with the Yellow Man

yellow men arrows and doors

Coming up with further ideas of pushing and pulling we tried to integrate the figures with the arrows and doors design but realised there were too many elements, making it cluttered and difficult to understand.

Taking photos to Generate Ideas

Went over to see Charles Kumi where he took a number of photos of me pushing and pulling doors.


Almost unconciously, I drew curves with a biro over the door frame of the printed photos.

During an appointment to see a patent agent, Harry Lamb, of Marks and Clerk in London, I showed him the push and pull photos.

He said "Mmm Bowed Doors!".

That was the first time the term "bowed doors" was used in relation to what we were trying to achieve.

His reaction indicated that this idea could work.

Push Sign Pictogram with a Bowed Door

push sign door pictogram

Taking the Push Sign Pictogram out of the arrows and doors picture above

and then adding a "bowed door" made the picture simpler

and easier to understand.
Having "Less to look at" had a beneficial effect on understanding the picture.

Various Digital Designs with Push and Pull Character

push pull multiple ideas

John created a number of digital designs based on my collages.

Although the idea was developing, the feedback from one critic was that one of the characters looked as if he was trying to climb a wall!

Bowed and striped Yellow and Black Doors


Trying an alternative design ended up with the design of black, yellow, black striped and bowed doors.

ski glove final

By joining John Szwenk's digital characters with the digital versions of the yellow and black striped and bowed doors, the characters were beginning to take shape.

Down to the Last Three Pictograms

We were down to three Pictograms.

push and pull last 3

For for the pull pictograms there was an image with a small "door knob" type handle and another with a "rectangular bar" type handle.

It was decided to choose only the image with the "bar type handle" as it made the pulling pictogram even clearer.

The Images Have a "Bit of a Belly"

John noted that the images had a bit of a belly, with the question of making the tummy smaller.

push sign belly

Chatting about it we agreed that the larger tummy made the images look more friendly.

Trimming Down the Doors and Moving the Foot Up

We were into the final "detailing" of the push and pull characters.

push sign comparisons

The arc of the doors was too long.

They were cut down at each end. I went to see Tom "the hypnotist" and gave him many different lengths of doors and chose the length he liked.

Also the pull image had the feet in line with each other.

Jean mentioned moving the foot up on about three different occasions before the penny dropped.

By raising the front foot the image looked better and more like someone planting feet firmly on the ground.

The final versions of the two pictograms were completed in February 2011.

Registering the designs with OHIM

Registering with OHIM was a good way of making the registration verifable and visible within Europe.

Registered Designs OHIM 001823618-001/002 push and pull signs

This was handled by patent agent Bob Gadsden of Gadsden IP, Thatcham.

The designs were given the priority date of 21st Febrary 2011.

The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) issued numbers

001823618-001/002 for the Design Registration Certificates.

A European Registered Design covers more than just a direct copy

A judge in a court would have to decide whether another image

"Created a similar overall impression on the informed user"

USA Design Patent

A Patent attorney in New York, Meredith and Keyhani, set up the application for the Design Patent.

USA Design Patents D654956 and D654957 push and pull signs

As the time was within the 6 months from the original OHIM registrations, the original priority date of 21st February could be used.

The Patent Certificate came through in early 2012.

USA Design Patent numbers D654956 and D654957 were allocated to the push and pull signs.

Trademark for "PUSH & PULL MAN"

One of the questions after the finalising of the designs was

"What were the characters going to be called?"

push and pull man trademark

It made sense as the Fire Exit signs were referred to as running man that these symbols should be called the equivalent

"Push and Pull Man".

The UK Intellectual Property Office

allocated number 2596549 to the "PUSH & PULL MAN" Trademark.


Although it is not necessary to register for copyright, it is helpful to put a copyright symbol to assert this right.

push pull signs copyright The copyright symbol is quite respected. One printer refused to do any printing unless copyright ownership was proven.

The only way ownership could be proved was by showing the OHIM European Design Registration certificates.

The different words for symbols

There are a number of words which have similar meanings:

Google push pull signs






"push and pull man.com" website

This web domain was registered to match with the Trademark name.

push and pull man image

Slough Observer Newspaper Article

Having talked to a reporter about the push and pull symbols, he sent along a photographer to take photos of John and me holding up the signs.

Slough Observer PUSH and PULL

It is a funny subject in that people seem to really get into the idea of using pictures for pushing and pulling doors.

The Slough Observer photographer told me about how his aunt had broken her hand after struggling with a door pushing/pulling the wrong way.

Wikipedia Page "Pictorial Push Pull Signs for Doors"

An initial Wikipedia page was created in July 2011 and this was renamed by a

Wikipedia administrator to its current name.

wikipedia push pull signs
"Pictorial Push Pull Signs for Doors"

As there was already a write-up from the Slough Observer reporter, there was a newspaper editorial source.

An editorial from Sign Update magazine was another good external reference.

There was a university research study on pushing and pulling doors based in Canada in 1994 and this was sited as an acedemic reference.

Feedback about the First Printed Signs

The original idea was to just have the symbols printed on their own.

With the symbols on their own a teacher tested the signs on a group of school children and verified that they were understandable as push and pull without prior training.

A conversation with a research Psychologist in Canada, who wrote the paper on push and pull signs back in 1994, revealed some interesting information.

Push Sign Push Sign
He ran a project using doors which were able to


He then added different types of push and pull signs to the doors

and noted how people reacted to the signs.

His results and conclusions were that the combination of "PICTURES + WORDS" make the most effective signs

A decision was taken to add the words push and pull.

Primary Schools

The first customer to buy the signs were Mundella Primary School in Sheffield 2011.

Push and Pull Key Stage One primary schools

Schools have to teach "push and pull" for key stage one and having these signs also makes the doors safer.

"We Must be Closed"

Push Pull - We Must Be Closed

International Languages

Small web pages in different languages have been developed

to allow people who don't speak English to access the site.

The majority of the searches seem to be from Spanish speaking countries with visitors from French speaking countries also making frequent visits. empujar tirar puertas spanish push and pull signs tirar empujar senales puertas spanish push and pull signs chinese push pull signs chinese push pull signs poussez panneau autocollant porte french push and pull signs tirez panneau autocollant porte french push and pull signs

russian push and pull signs russian push and pull signs drucken schilder ziehen german push and pull signs ziehen schilder drucken german push and pull signs

There are also visits from German, Italian and Russian language speaking countries.

Oxford Bookes University Research

I met Professor Angus Gellatly in Corsica and we started chatting about the signs.

He was keen to do a study on the signs with his student Meera Dubabh and came up with the helpful conclusion that the colour would be better changed from Yellow to Red and Green.

Slough Borough Council, Slough, United Kingdom

Slough Borough Council emailed a purchase order for signs at the end of September 2018.

Although Sheffield Council bought in 2011 for Mundella primary school,

Slough are the first local government to install the stickman face adhesive signs.

Slough Borough Council Purchase Order

Push and Pull Man Pushing Pulling Pictures for Kids Children Schools Teaching

Sign Update Magazine: Push and pull symbols are changed to red and green

push pull signs.com home page

push pull signs contact page

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