Copyright in Logo’s – Finding the perfect logo for your business that not only identifies the goods and services you offer but also embodies the essence of your brand is a difficult task and for many less creative entrepreneurs, the assistance of a designer will be required.
It can be easy for business owners to fall into the trap of paying a designer for their services and then immediately start using and reproducing the logo created by the designer, without actually owning the copyright in the logo. Purchasing a logo or a hiring a designer to create a logo does not necessarily give you ownership of the copyrights in the logo. Copyright is an inherent right in the expression of an idea and gives the creator the exclusive right to use and reproduce the work. Copyright protection is automatic, and copyrights are not registered as is the case with other forms of intellectual property such as trade marks, designs and patents.
Copyright can subsist in literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work and copyright protects the expression of an idea, rather than the idea itself. A person may have an excellent idea for a company logo and if that idea is communicated to a designer who creates a design based on that idea, then the copyright in the logo which is the result of the communication of the idea to the designer, belongs to the designer. Only original works are capable of protection and a designer owns copyright in their design simply by creating the design. While the designer may have been paid to create a design, this does not give the purchaser the exclusive copyrights and the only way to be certain that you own the copyrights in your logo is to either create the logo yourself or have the designer fully assign the copyrights to you, by entering into a Deed of Assignment. To ensure copyright is fully assigned, you should consult a legal practitioner with knowledge in Intellectual Property.
While owning the copyrights gives the owner the right to reproduce a work, copyright protection does have its limitations and only protects the way an idea is expressed and as copyrights are not registered, enforcement can also be time consuming costly. In order to prevent someone from copying a logo, the owner will need to prove that they are the owner of the work, that copyright subsists in the work, for example that there is enough originality in the work in order to attract copyright protection and that the work has been copied, which could require the Court’s intervention. A trade mark on the other hand, gives the owner of the trade mark the exclusive rights to use the trade mark and prevent other traders from using the same or deceptively similar logo and as trade marks are registered on the Trade Marks Register, registration is proof of ownership, which makes the process of protecting and preventing unauthorised use of company a logo generally easier and more cost effective. A trade mark application is reviewed by an Examiner to ascertain whether the mark applied for is the same or similar to a trade mark already registered, which also gives the owner of a trade mark an element of certainty that their logo is not infringing upon the rights of another trader. To achieve registration, a trade mark must also be capable of distinguishing the owners goods and services from those of other traders
Once a trade mark is registered, other traders will be precluded from registering the same or similar trade mark in relation to the same or similar classes of goods and services.
Copyrights and trade marks should be used together to ensure the best possible protection of your brand. It is also recommended that you consult a legal practitioner experienced in intellectual property when creating a new logo for your business to ensure that the logo is registerable as a trade mark.
If you would like to discuss the intellectual property rights of your business, then please contact our team today.
The information in this document represents general information and should not be relied on for your specific circumstances. If you require legal advice and assistance on the matters contained or associated in this document you should contact MMLaw. Please contact Tamsyn Harris.