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Protection of Brand Logo under Copyright Law: All you must know

Logos are frequently used to identify a company. They are crucial to your company' brand since they are the mark with the help of which the consumers will recognize your brands or services. As a result, it's essential to ensure that people can't use your brand without your consent. This article will look at whether it is possible to protect a logo under copyright Law.

Logos as an artistic work under copyright

Several types of work are covered by Copyright under the Copyright Act. "Artistic works" is one of them. Paintings, drawings, cartoons, and other forms of art are all examples of artistic works. Your logo may qualify as an "artistic work" if it has a particular level of ingenuity and uniqueness. Your logo must demand some amount of skill and hard work to produce to fit into this category. It also has to be made by a person, not with the help of a machine.

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Is a logo protected by copyright or a trademark?

The answer to this question is affirmative. Yes, a logo that incorporates creative or design components (rather than just the name) is legally considered a work of artistic creativity and is thus protected under copyright law. As an innovative creation, the logo is protected by Copyright. Since Copyright is an automatic international right, unauthorized logo copying would be an infringement (save for activities permitted under fair dealing regulations).

Because the logo is an identifying brand identity mark, a trademark will be applied to it. Trademarks are used to avoid confusion in the marketplace between rival businesses in the same industry. They are immediately protected against passing off in most common-law jurisdictions, i.e. when a rival uses the mark in a confusing/misleading manner. A registered trademark can also be applied for on a nation or region-by-country basis.

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Protection of logo copyright by the court

Even if you don't think some logos deserve to be classified as "artistic works," the courts are very flexible in using these criteria. For Copyright, they regard even the most basic logos to be "artistic creations."

For instance, In South Korea, a case for logo copyright violation was filed. A South Korean chicken restaurant lost a court battle with the clothing firm Louis Vuitton.

HELD: After ruling that the restaurant's name, Louis Vuiton Dak, was too similar in sound and style to Louis Vuitton, the Court found in favour of the design brand. Furthermore, the packaging and restaurant logo was designed in the style of the famed Louis Vuitton brand.

The corporation, in this instance, was not only forced to stop using the logo and name with which it had built its image, but it was also fined $14.5 million for refusing to modify its appearance.

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What amounts to logo copyright infringement? 

Infringement of logo copyright occurs when you utilize a significant component of a trademark (such as the shape or color of a logo) in your design without obtaining authorization.

If your logo is copyrighted, it is an infringement for someone else to copy a 'substantial portion of it without your consent. A substantial part is an important, distinguishing, or necessary component of your logo. The Court decides this in a qualitative rather than quantitative approach. It is a common fallacy that modifying a copyrighted material a little bit indicates you are not breaching Copyright. Consider if customers would still relate the new logo with your items to assess whether a rival has reproduced a significant portion of your logo.

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What constitutes fair use? -: exceptions to logo copyright infringement

There is some flexibility in copyright law because there are millions of firms and only a few forms and designs in any standard logo. The fair use doctrine refers to a provision in the Copyright Act that allows copyrighted works to be used without the author's consent.

For example, in a college paper, you can cite copyrighted materials without paying permission to use them. It's also fine if you're reporting the news and need to cite a piece of copyrighted material.

Furthermore, in cases of fair dealing, it is permissible to utilize copyrighted logos. That is when the logo is used for:

  1. Research or analysis;
  2. critique or review;
  3. satire or comedy; or
  4. for news reporting
  5. Giving professional Advice

Aside from the objective of usage, it must also be fair use given the circumstances. For example, while reporting the news, you should utilize enough to convey your point without repeating unnecessary details. It's also worth noting that your consumption has to be mainly for one of these objectives. You cannot utilize copyrighted content primarily for commercial advantage and then claim fair use exemption.

HHS Copyright Lawyers in Dubai UAE

There's certainly something to be said about getting ideas from cases of logo copyright violation. If you're inspired by the way another company's logo uses colors and forms, you won't get in trouble if you interpret the core idea in your design differently. The secret to success is to make sure you don't just copy what's already out there; instead, you reinvent it.

It is critical to safeguard your logo to secure your brand. It guarantees that your goods stand out from those of your competition. If your logo is distinctive enough to be considered an "artistic creation," Copyright will protect it. Many businesses, however, opt to register their logo as a trademark to strengthen their brand's protection from infringers. 

To know more about how to secure your brand logo under Intellectual Property Rights such as Copyright, Trademark and Design, don't hesitate to contact HHS Copyright Lawyers and Legal Consultants Today.

M. Al Khatem

Trademark & Intellectual Property

M. Al Khatem is a senior Trademark and Intellectual Property (IP) expert in HHS Lawyers. He has handled some of the firm’s complex, high-profile cases – many involving the protection of trademark and IP rights.