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Logo Copyright Related Questions

When a person wishes to copyright a logo, it means that they want the exclusive right to make copies, license, and sometimes even sell the certain logo that they wish to copyright. A logo is a graphic representation of a certain company name. The only limitation there is when it comes to copyrighting is that copyright protection is for artistic creations. It usually does not extend to more commercial businesses.

If a person uses a certain logo, but someone else with a similar copyrighted logo says it is too much like their logo and requests that it be changed, how does one determine if it is too similar?

If both companies have copyright protection on their logos, then a court would usually have to look over each individual piece to see the similarities and differences. Unless the second company has the money and wants to make the effort of taking the person to court over it, usually there is not much the second company can do about the matter. If they do take the person to court, however, then the decision is based on what the judge thinks of the two logos. They will look to see if the two companies are in the same business industry, and they will also look to see which piece was copyrighted first.

If a certain person makes a logo for a company and the company does not pay for the services provided, but now uses a logo with the same elements as the person they did not pay, what can this person do to stop the company from using the logo?

If the company is using the same elements in their logo, they should slightly acknowledge that they are in the wrong if they are confronted about it. Under the copyright law, a work that is being made for hire grants the person that is making the particular work complete copyright ownership of the work. However, this rule only applies if there is a signed agreement that the particular work that is being made is considered to be a work-for-hire. The artistic logo being made also has to qualify for the categories that are mentioned in that signed agreement. If the company is in breach of the contract made with the person hired to create the work, such as not paying for the services that the person provided, then that person has a strong argument that the company is in the wrong and may be paid any type of damages that have been suffered from making the product if they have evidence supporting their accusation.

If a certain company wants to use a logo for a smaller, more insignificant product, but they have seen another company use the same thing, as well as other companies with small variations, what would need to be done to avoid infringing on the copyrights of that logo for that company?

Typically, companies rarely have copyright ownership over small logos if what they are advertising for is insignificant. Even if a company has the copyright over the certain logo, it probably only covers the exact artwork of that logo. So, making slight changes to the logo would most likely keep one from infringing on the copyright of a product that is small.

If a company wishes to use a certain logo that is similar to a logo used by the United States government, how can one use that logo without getting into any trouble?

As long as the company is not suggesting any type of relationship or sponsorship towards the United States government, there should be no infringement trouble. As long as the company makes it clear that there can be no such connection between the company’s logo and the United States government, they are free to use the logo as they please.

If a certain person receives permission from a certain company to use a copyrighted and trademark protected logo through an email, is that enough permission for that person to use the logo?

When it comes to protected logos, a person must make sure that permission has been given to use that certain logo if it is not under their ownership. Although permission has been granted through email, it is much better to receive permission to use the logo in writing, such as some sort of license that grants the permission necessary.

When it comes to logo copyright, it is always better to be safe than sorry. One could have a certain logo that does not have any sort of protection on it, and another person may start to use it because there is no copyright ownership over that certain work. It is best to keep the Experts in mind, for whenever questions come up.

Ask an IP Lawyer

Alex Reese
Alex Reese, Lawyer
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 2740
Experience:  Experienced in intellectual property law
14461494
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Recent Logo Questions

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    I sold a number of my photographic slides via eBay to a buyer in England. They were taken between 1982 and 2004. He insists that since I sold the slides to him, he now owns the copyright to the slides. I maintain that is wrong--copyrights of photographic slides belong to the creator of intellectual property--that's me. (To protect myself, I've made digital images of the slides.)
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    I submitted a jewelry design idea to a company who have jewelry makers. In the proposal the maker is using pre-made pieces and putting a logo on them, a drawing that I want them to add the the pieces. In the proposal they want common law copy right. I hired them to make the pieces. Do they have the right to do this?
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