If you are looking to grow your business and stand out from the crowd, having a logo makes perfect sense. A logo can help your business to be instantly recognised. You only have to think of some of the most famous businesses in the world and their logo will instantly come to mind, all are copyright logo.
While it is unlikely that your logo will go on to have such mass appeal as some of the most famous logos you will find in the world, it is important that you protect your logo and your business in the best possible manner after all it is your intellectual property and you need to protect against copyright infringement.
It is important to be aware that a logo can be subject to copyright. A logo that contains design or artistic elements (which means it can’t be just the name by itself) will be found to have legal recognition of artistic creation and it is therefore eligible under copyright laws.
A copyright logo will protect the logo with respect to its artistic element and as a piece of artistic work. Given that a copyright is a right that is automatic all around the world, it follows on that anyone carrying out unauthorised copies of a logo will be infringing of a copyright .
Copyright Logo Infringement
Copyright Can be Easily Applied to Logos
The first thing to say is that copyright, trademark, registered and unregistered design right and patent are all completely different things. A trademark and a registered design right need to be registered with the Intellectual Property Office.
Whilst in the United States it is possible and indeed necessary to register copyright there is no facility to register copyright in the UK and it exists by virtue of the fact that it was created. This article is only concerned with copyright.
With copyright applying to a broad range of things, it is easy to see why it can be applied to a logo that has an artistic element or flourish. Copyrighted material provides the owner or author of the logo to have specific rights over their work.
Most importantly, it prevents a number of unauthorised actions from taking place and if these actions do take place, the author or owner of the logo has the opportunity to take legal action against any act of plagiarism or infringement. Ideally, the threat of legal action will ward off any breach of copyright but in some cases, logo authors or owners have had to take legal action against copyrighted material.
Some firms may also benefit from the fact that a trademark may also be applied to a copyright logo. A trademark can be applied to any symbol, design, word, slogan or name that identifies an organisation or a product.
Given that the logo will go some way as being an identifier of the brand’s identity, it can become a trademark. Trademarks can be applied for within a particular country or region and the trademark will only be eligible within that trading sector, country or region.
You Need to Check
When looking to see if you can copyright or trademark a logo, it is important to check to see that there are no similar works available. This means you need to make sure that your logo or design doesn’t actually infringe on any designs made by other parties.
You may think that this is unlikely, but it is always worth checking out and it may save you a lot of trouble in the long run. There are three main areas to look at in the UK, including the UK Trade Mark Register, the Community Trade Mark Register and the International Trade Mark Register. This may seem long-winded but if you are keen to ensure that your logo can be copyrighted, it is worthwhile taking all of these steps.
Whilst this is not a definitive list of copyright logo it is a start. Someone else may already have produced a logo similar to yours and they can claim copyright infringement.
While many people believe that there is an implied copyright, and there will be a high level of agreement with this, it is important to take steps to ensure that you are covered. Logos can be worth a lot to a business and illegal use of a logo can cause a lot of problems and issues for companies.
This is why taking steps to ensure that your logo has been properly cleared with respect to copyright makes a lot of sense for businesses.
If you believe in your logo and you think it will boost your business for many years to come, make sure you take proper care of it.
How is copyright created?
It is created by virtue of the fact that a person created the work. It is simple as that. In order to prove copyright, all you need to do is prove that the work existed on a particular date.
People have said that all you need to do is put a copy of it in an envelope and post it to yourself. That proves that it existed on a particular date. That is not foolproof but all it confirms is that you posted an envelope to yourself on a particular date!
There are a couple of foolproof ways of doing this and one is to print the logo onto a piece of paper so that it partly covers a postage stamp. Then ask the post office counter to cancel the stamp making sure that the date on the stamp can be seen.
That way, the logo existed at the time the stamp was put on the paper and the logo existed at the time the stamp was cancelled by the post office counter.
There is another way (which is more expensive potentially) and that is to provide a copy to your solicitor and ask your solicitor to date stamp it. The postage Stamp method probably has a little more “flourish” and is less open to abuse.
Who owns copyright?
This applies to all copyright and not just that of a logo. It can be the artistic work of a logo a song or a written piece. Remember that copyright endures for 70 years after the death of the author/artist.
If a piece of work is created during the course of employment it belongs to the employer.
If it is created as part of a self-employed commission it belongs to the artist unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Therefore, if you get someone to design the logo for you what to do any other work make sure that it is a specific term of the agreement that the intellectual property (which includes copyright) vests in you or your business. Unless you do that, you may pay to end up with a logo or a work of art or some other creation which although you can use, you do not actually own.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.