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Copyright Logo

When first learning about copyright law and how it can affect your business, it can be confusing. 

Copyright logo, it is in theory very simple as under internationl copyright law, copyright is an automatic right at the moment the design of the logo has been deemed finished or completed.  You simply have to prove that you created the logo and on be able to prove the date. That’s it.  There is no need to file or submit your logo to the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Whilst it’s that simple, if your logo is used without your permission and you want to take action against that party, proving you designed your logo on a particular date can be more difficult than you might think.  The three most common methods of proof are:

  • Date and time from the computer file
  • Emailing it to a friend
  • Sending it to yourself in the post (known as the poor man’s copyright)


Indisputable Proof

Dates and times can be changed on computer files so this in itself is not indisputable proof of creation or ownership of your logo or intellectual property. If a party were to dispute the time and date on the logo file, this may have to taken to a computer specialist to prove that it wasn’t tampered with. This would inevitably add time and expense to any copyright infringement claim.

Emailing to a friend is much the same situation, where if the date was ever disputed you may have to approach your internet service provider and ask them to review their logs and confirm that the email was genuine. This would likely add significant time to the resolution of any copyright dispute.

The poor man’s copyright is a rather dated way to prove your copyright as by posting your logo and any other creative works to yourself, means you have to keep these envelopes for years to come. Also, once you open them, they cannot be used as proof of copyright again obviously.

 

©  Copyright Symbol Meaning

It's important to display the copyright symbol on your imtellectual property to show that it's your copyright. You do not have to register your work anywhere in order to use the copyright symbol as copyright is an automatic right under international copyright law.  Therefore you can place the © copyright symbol (the letter c with a circle around it) on your creative design work and intellectual property as you wish.  There is no law that stops you from doing this.

The most common copyright symbol example notice that tends to be printed in books or in the footer of websites, is as follows:

 

© Copyright 2010-2020 Company Name. All Rights Reserved.

 

Using this copyright symbol, allows you to show any person viewing your logo or work that you are the copyright owner, how long the work has been protected by copyright and confirmation that the work cannot be used with your permission. This is an effective copyright notice.

 

Trademark Symbol

Another of the symbols that you can use on your logo or brand identity is TM, giving you trademark protection. This symbol signifies that you are using your logo and brand as a trademark. Whilst this TM symbol is not officially not recognised by UK law as a “registered trademark”, it’s certainly not illegal and clearly indicates that you are using the graphic as a trade mark and could hold some limited significance with other countries.

By registering with Protect My Work and uploading your logo to our secure vault, we can help provide evidence that the trade mark is yours, which you will need in case of a successful dispute using the common law action of “Passing Off”.

If you want to use ® symbol (or "RTM"), which denotes a registered trademark, we recommend contacting The Intellectual Property Office which is a UK government body. Prices start at £170 for one trademark application. The registration process takes approximately 3 - 4 months with no objections, under normal circumstances. You can search the UK trademark database for free here. Alternatively, contact us and we can assist you in registering your trade mark with the UK Intellectual Property Office.

 

Copyright Or Trademark a Logo

The question of whether or not you should trademark or copyright your logo is one that you have to answer for yourself. 

Registering proof of copyright of you logo protects the design and the originality of it, however it does not protect the name of your business itself.  If you’re going to promote your logo on products such as tshirts, we do recommend you register the copyright of your logo. The advantages to registering the proof of your copyright is that it's immediate, easy and tends to be a lower cost with a copyright registration service like Protect My Work.

Trademark protects the brand aspect of your logo and can also protect the name of your business but you would need to file two seperate trademarks, one for the logo and one for the name (doubling the filing costs).  Filing a trademake for your logo, does NOT automatically trademark the name. If you’re selling goods and services under your brand, your logo will likely be a key part of it and you should consider a trademark.  Think Coca Cola and Disney!

It's recommended a trade mark is registered to gain complete protection of your logo. Copyright protection will occur when the logo is created and stops someone from copying it but a registered trade mark will allow you to prevent any identical or confusingly similar mark in respect of the same or similar goods and services. The disadvantage to this is that it takes much longer, up to 5 -6 months at the time of writing due to COVID-19 and costs start at £170 filing fee per trademark.

 

ProtectMyWork.com - A Copyright Deterrent

Using ProtectMyWork.com as a copyright registration service for your logo, is an effective deterrent to copyright theft. Once you submit your work, you’ll receive a digital certificate that will show the date and time your logo was received, your name, business name (if any) and be assigned a unique reference number.  This acts as an effective deterrent to copyright theft and for increased copyright protection, we advise using a copyright notice similar to the following example:

 

© Copyright 2010-2020 Company Name. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright protected with ProtectMyWork.com Reference Number: 123456789

 

You can also upload not just your logo but any creative work to your Protect My Work account such as, your website design, website content, photos, any advertising that you’re going to post on Instagram or Facebook, books, songs, poems etc. This is a convenient and organised way to keep all of your copyright protected work in one place. Whilst it's not required, copyright registration is very wise and can save a lot of time, stress and financial loss should you find your copyright infringed.

 

What Files Can I Protect?

Digital files can be registered with us, such as PNG’s, PDF’s, JPG’s, PSD’s , AI’s, EPS , GIF’s or any file format . This can be done either by email or by logging into your account and uploading it to our secure vault.

 

Can I Copyright a Logo If I’ve Used Another For Inspiration?

There is no worldwide database of logos that you to check to see if the logo you designed already exists but the chances are if you designed it from scratch, you won’t have any issues at all.

If you’ve used other logos as inspiration, this is common in the graphic design world.  Taking elements of logos that you like visually and including them in your logo is acceptable but it’s your responsibility to make sure that you don’t infringe someone else’s logo copyright.  You must ensure that you change your logo enough so as you’re not flying too close to the wire.

As long as you feel you’re able to justify your logo design is unique if you need to or your willing to change it if challenged, then design as you’re happy.


What If a Designer Created My Logo?

This is not a problem but if your logo is to be created by a designer or design company, we strongly suggest that you have a written agreement with the designer that transfers copyright ownership and  all intellectual property rights of the logo to you or your company.

We also highly recommend that you ask your designer for the logo source file and upload this to our secure vault for safe keeping.

 

Logo Copyright Infringement

If your logo is used without your permission, make sure you have a copyright notice and the copyright symbol present somwhere viewable if it's possible. The first step is to then, contact the other party and explain that your logo is protected by copyright and confirm what proof you have that you are the legal owner of the copyright protection in the logo.  Ask them to stop using your logo and try and resolve the matter amicably.

Should this not bring about the required result, you can send a cease and desist letter stating they are infringing your copyright, make them aware of your proof of copyright and give a time frame for the logo to be removed, for example, 48 hours.

Should this still fail, you can take legal action against them in small claims court.

 

Copyright in the United States

Copyright in the United States works slightly differently.  Copyright is still an automatic right, registration is not a requirement or necessary but registration with the US Copyright Office, if you’re going to be doing business in the United States, can increase your legal protection. Registration is also required if you wish to challenge someone with a copyright infringement claim. We advise you to think about submitting your logo to the US Copyright Office as well, if you plan to do business there.