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Copyright or Trademark for your brand new logo?

Copyright & Trademark Cover2

When starting a new business, there are many legal matters to get in order. Some can be easily overlooked, and logo protection specifically can get a little confusing. In this post we’re defining the differences in Copyrights and Trademarks so you can decide which one works best for you.

Understanding intellectual property law can seem like an intimidating task. In today’s digital age having an online presence is vital to many businesses, so it’s important to know how to protect your image. You don’t want a competitor using your logo, for themselves or to to make a negative statement about your business. Or how do you keep a similar business from using the ideas in your logo for themselves, building off of your likeness? We’ll sort these situations out by looking into two legal forms of protection: copyrights and trademarks.

Before we get into that, it’s important to establish where the rights to artwork begin and how those rights are transferred. Since you’ll be seeing many logo submissions during your Logo123.com Project, lets start there.

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Who’s Got The Right?

When an artist or designer initially creates a piece of artwork (logos included), they own the rights to them by default. So as submissions come in to your project, they are all owned by their respective artists. This begins to change as a winner is selected. It legally starts the transition of rights, you’re beginning an agreement with that individual designer.ray ban sunglasses men

At this point, the designer will upload a .zip file that contains a JPG, PNG, PDF, and EPS files. You’ll be able to then download the package and review each file to make sure everything is as agreed upon. If there are any final changes or variations needed, such as color differences or typos, now is the time to make sure everything is perfectly correct. When everything is just the way you need it, you should return to the project page and hit the “Confirm Package” button. This is important for a few reasons, namely it officially finished your logo project. Perhaps the most important though, clicking the button releases the prize money from Logo123.com to the winning designers account. This finishes the legal transaction of the money you paid for the files and rights of the artwork you have chosen. At this point the designer relinquishes all right the the artwork, compensated by the prize money, and you obtain all legal rights and benefits of the design.red oakley sunglasses

With the rights to the logo officially in your possession, it’s time to consider how to protect it for the future. The first option we’ll go over is copyright.

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ID-10067228Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Is A Copyright?

As defined by merriam-webster.com, a copyright is the legal right to be the only one to reproduce, publish, and sell a book, musical recording, etc. for a certain period of time. So quite literally, it’s the right to make copies of something. The purpose it serves for a company is so that they can protect and monitor their reputation in the marketplace. In the United States, you do not have to apply for a Copyright. As long as you own the rights to the work, you can add the © symbol for protection. Just make sure you’re using it for the right things.

Copyright does not protect names, color combinations, or general logo designs. The only way a logo would qualify for copyright protection is if it has enough distinction as a creative piece of artwork outside of being used to represent a company or business. A copyright protects physical, material things, not the thoughts or ideas they represent. It is best used to keep others from producing fakes and knock-offs of your product.

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ID-10067233Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Is A Trademark?

The dictionary definition from Merriam-Webster.com states that a trademark is something (such as a word) that identifies a particular company’s product and cannot be used by another company without permission. A synonym of the word “brand,” a trademark is legal protection of an identifying mark. As such, it keeps others from using your likeness or a similar logo design that would create confusion in your specific marketplace. In the United States, if you eventually intend to register your logo design, you are allowed to use a ™ until that time. Once you’ve registered, you can make the switch to the ® symbol.

In order to apply for a trademark, a design must be unique and possess sufficient “distinctive character.” This means that any generic or minimal designs may fail to qualify. Registering with a trademark will protect color combinations, typefaces, slogans, and logo designs. Trademark does not prevent reproduction of your logo, but does protect it from other companies using a logo that has similarities to your own.

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ID-100108194Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Conclusion

In the end it would be best to consider using a trademark to protect your logo. If your design is distinct enough, the ™ will keep others from leeching off of your mark, using its uniqueness and your reputation for themselves. You can include this as a request in your Project Brief, for designers to include a ™ symbol somewhere in their design. If you already have your logo designed from Logo123.com, one of these symbols can easily be added. With access to vector editing software such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, you can open it up and insert the necessary symbols. Just something to consider.

While there’s a lot more that can be specifically discussed about copyright and trademark issues, I hope this overview puts them in better perspective for you. For further reference or more case-specific questions, I recommend checking out these links:

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Do you have any questions I didn’t answer here?
Give me a shout in the comments section below!

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