What You Need to Know About Logo Copyright

Logo copyright is the legal right to use, distribute, and promote your logo design anywhere. This means you have exclusive ownership and control over how your logo is used, and no one else can copy or imitate it without your permission.

By getting the copyrights of your logo, you can keep it secure, trademark it and prevent any infringement by others. Let’s find out what they are and how you can protect your logo from being used and shared by others without your permission.

What Is a Copyright?

Copyright is the legal right to share, reproduce and publish visual assets like artwork, illustrations, book covers, or images. Having copyrights means that nobody else can share or use your creative work without authorization. You own the copyright of a design as soon as you create it. The symbol © is used to show that a creative work has been copyrighted by the owner or designer.

For example logos of brands like Louis Vuitton and Adidas have been copyrighted. This means that nobody else can use the design to promote their businesses or share them on websites, social media platforms or print materials like brochures and flyers without prior permission.

Source: Wikimedia

Should You Copyright Your Logo?

Now, you might think that your logo is only yours to use for developing brand awareness and recognition. While the common law in the United States says that a trademark is applied to your logo as soon as you create and start using it, you may still need to go a step further to protect the property. This is where you need to consider logo copyrights.

How to Get Logo Copyrights

To legally protect all your creative work and designs, you can file for copyright at the U.S. Copyright Office. Here are some of the creative works protected by copyright:

You can follow these steps to file for a logo copyright.

Step 1: Access the website for U.S. Copyright Office and sign up.

Step 2: Enter the details of your company and the graphics used in the logo design.

Step 3: Attach a vector file of the brand symbol and review your application.

Step 4: Pay the fees and wait for approval

Famous Cases of Copyright Infringement

Here are some of the most popular cases of logo copyright infringement where companies took legal action against the other party.

Lous Vuitton vs Louis Vuitton Dak

The luxury giant filed a case against a small business in South Korea that started using the company’s name and brand symbol. Louis Vuitton won and changed the case and the business had to change its name to Louis Vuitton Dak to avoid damages.

- Adidas vs Forever 21

The company filed a case against Forever 21 for using the widely recognized ‘three-stripes’ symbol that is associated with Adidas. Since it's trademarked by the sportswear brand, Forever 21 was sued for using this icon on its products. The lawsuit was later settled by both companies.

- Starbucks vs Sardarbuksh

This was another famous case of logo copyright infringement that was claimed by the global corporation, Starbucks. The brand filed a lawsuit against a coffee chain in India called, Sardarbuksh for using a similar name and logo. They had to eventually make changes to their brand identity to avoid paying compensation to Starbucks.

These are some known cases where companies had to file legal complaints against other businesses that were found using similar logos and brand names.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is used to protect designs, symbols, or monograms that can be used to differentiate one company from another. It is an intellectual property right that belongs to the owner or designer who files for trademark registration. The McDonald’s M is specifically trademarked for use by the corporation. This means that other brands cannot use the golden arches or the ‘M’ for their products.

When registered, the trademark can protect all the design elements in your logo such as the symbols, text, letter marks, and colors. So, basically you can legally secure all your branding assets with a trademark. To trademark a logo, you can apply with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Visit the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) website and check whether your logo can be trademarked by running a search with TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System).
  2. Start preparing your application for registering a trademark. Include details of your business such as name and product or service that it offers.
  3. Upload the logo and its variations in color, or black and white.
  4. Pay the fees

Copyright Vs. Trademark: What’s the difference?

Before getting your logo copyrighted or trademarked, it’s important to understand the difference.

Fair Use and Common Law

When you copyright the logo, you ensure that only your business or brand can use the design. So your intellectual property is secure against infringement but some of the elements may be permitted for ‘fair use’ by others.

Some graphic elements like free fonts and shapes can be used and shared by everyone as they are considered ‘public property’. This comes under fair use which applies to design elements that are not owned by anyone.

Now, fair use does not authorize anyone to use the design elements for profit or to make money from them. Despite that, you need to claim copyright over your logo design and get ownership.

Most designers and creators do have rights to their creative works as per the common law. This is a widely followed rule where artists, musicians, and graphic designers have ownership of their art as soon as its created. While the law is applied in different states, it is not legally binding. This means that your logo design is not completely protected from infringement until you file for copyrights or register your trademark.

Copyright vs. Trademark

The copyright applies to the artwork or illustration that you create, but it cannot protect elements like font styles, shapes or monograms that are available to the public

On the other hand, if you get a trademark, it helps prevent competitors or other businesses from copying your fonts, monogram, or symbol. In case of infringement, you could take legal action and get compensation too.

Logo Copyright Trademark
Filed at U.S Copyright Office Filed at USPTO
Protects Artwork, Illustration and Images against Being Shared or Copied By Others Protects Symbols, Text Styles, Monograms, Slogans that can be used to identify a brand and its products from being copied
Does not cover symbols and shapes under ‘Fair Use’ Prevents use of typography, lettermark and icons by other businesses or competitors
Lasts for a lifetime Can continue to be used until the symbol or brandmark exists
Designer or creator can transfer copyrights of a design to a business owner Business owners can file trademark registration for their logo designs

Which Should You Choose?

You can choose to get a trademark registered for your logo as that protects your brand name, letter mark and slogan from being reproduced and copied by others in the industry. Copyright is also a good option but it does not cover some of the publicly available symbols or icons against ‘fair use’. This means that even if you have logo copyrights, people will have the permission or authority to use some shapes or symbols in their own works.

Getting Your Logo Copyrighted

For instance, if you are thinking about opening a small coffee shop and want to create a logo for it. Now, you can create a digital illustration of a coffee cup with smoke on the top and convert the file to a PNG format. You can upload this image to a template and add your coffee shop name and slogan to it.

To protect the illustration of the coffee cup and smoke from being copied and recreated by others, you can file for logo copyrights. Now, you can opt for logo copyrights and get ownership of the creative work such as the image or illustration used in the design. The copyright will protect your right to own the logo graphics or artwork.

When you file for logo copyrights, you have the legal authority to prevent other people from copying or imitating it. If you are interested in the copyright* of your logo purchased at DesignMantic, you can contact us.

Registering Your Logo for Trademark

Now, taking the same example, you can file for the rights of your brand name and slogan too. This comes under trademark registration. You can protect the illustration of the coffee cup being used in the logo, along with the company name that is used to differentiate your business from others. When you file for trademark registration, you can protect all the elements like the text, design image, and design elements from being used by anyone else.

It is a good idea to consider working with a third party who can provide legal assistance and guide you through the process.

What Benefits Do You Get From Logo Copyrights?

Here’s what you can get by filing for copyrights for your logo.

Ownership of Brand

Your logo is one of the most important parts of your brand identity, and it's what sets you apart from your competitors. By getting a logo copyright, you ensure that your logo only represents your work or business.

This makes it easier for clients or potential customers to identify and differentiate your ideas or brand from competitors.

Just think of any big corporation here right now. Coca-Cola, for instance, has one of the most popular logos in the world. The company has trademarked its flowing script which is recognized by the audience widely. Their logo appears on bottles, cans, and all their packaging designs with the symbol.

Source: wikimedia

A unique and well-designed logo helps your brand stand out in competitive industries and allows people to easily identify your product or work. Think of it like a signature!

Legal Protection

Without a logo copyright, you may find it difficult to prevent people from copying or imitating the design. This can lead to confusion among the audience and damage the reputation of a business as well. By getting a logo copyright, you have legal protection against any infringement or unauthorized use of your creative design.

While this protects your artwork or illustration, you can get a trademark registered to prevent competitors or similar businesses from copying the monograms, slogans, font styles and colors in their logos.

McDonald’s brand identity design has trademarked its ‘M’ symbol with the iconic golden arches and the company name. This prevents others from creating a similar icon.

If someone uses your logo or monogram without permission, you can take legal action against them. You could get compensation for damages in case someone uses the logo without authorization or permission.

Build Brand Credibility

A logo copyright can add to the credibility of a designer or business. Having a copyright shows that your logo is an original design and that adds to the authority of your business and brand within the industry.

A logo protected by copyright also makes a great impression on the target audience as it can help build trust and add credibility to your products or services.

Apple has a memorable logo design that people across the world can identify instantly. The brand has claimed copyrights over the pictorial that appears on all its products.

If a competitor or any other business tries to imitate or use their design in their packaging or for promoting their brand, the tech corporation can take legal action against them.

Transfer of Copyrights

When you generate your logo with our online logo creator, one of the first things you might think about is originality. Does the design look similar to others? Can it be downloaded and used by different people? The simple answer is no. You can get ownership of your design by getting the copyrights transferred to your business or company. Find out more about filing for logo copyrights by reaching out to the support team or contact us via form.

Knowing that your logo is protected against imitation can give you peace of mind and make it easier to focus on building your portfolio or growing your business. You won't have to worry about a competitor copying your design or using your logo to promote their products or services.

Lowe, the retail company, has a brand symbol that connects with its loyal customers everywhere. They have made sure that the icon is theirs to use by filing for trademark registration and protecting their logo against use.

It cannot be featured by competitors or other organizations without their authorization. If you find a logo similar to Lowe’s, it might create a legal issue for the designer or brand using the design.

Get Full Ownership of Your Logo

Our logo maker tool has hundreds of templates that you can look through for inspiration or customize to create a memorable logo. If you are thinking about starting a business or e-commerce store, you can reach out to our professional designers and get a custom logo design created from scratch!

Once you download the files or get the deliverables, DesignMantic transfers the ownership of the brand symbol to the clients.

*We do not file for copyrights or trademark of logos. As a business owner you will need to do that yourself.