Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart
Mini Article – Volume 22, Issue 23
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Can You Copyright a Logo?
By Kristyn C. Webb
Your brand is everything: an identity, a reputation, and a revenue-generating asset. Often, when launching a new business or product, there is much time, attention, and resources spent on creating the perfect logo. Then, there is much time, attention, and resources spent protecting that logo under trademark law. But logos that are sufficiently creative may enjoy copyright protection too!
Both trademark law and copyright law may protect your logo, although the protection they provide differs. Trademark law would prohibit the unauthorized use of another’s logo that is sufficiently similar to your logo such that it is likely to cause confusion in the marketplace. On the other hand, copyright law would prohibit the unauthorized copying of your logo by another—regardless of whether that copying would be likely to confuse consumers. In most instances, to find trademark infringement, the infringer must be in your field of business or in a sufficiently related field to cause the requisite consumer confusion. By contrast, to find copyright infringement, the infringer need only copy your logo regardless of whether the infringer conducts business in your field or a related field.
In addition, timely registration of a copyrightable logo gives the owner the option to pursue statutory damages ($750-$30,000 per work and up to $150,000 per work willfully infringed). The availability of statutory damages can be a powerful tool in stopping infringement and deterring would-be infringers.
Finny the Fish: Although trademark law and copyright law may both protect your logo, they involve separate registration processes. For example, Finny is the subject of a federal trademark registration which the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted this month. He also is the subject of a pending copyright application filed with the United States Copyright Office. We will keep you updated on Finny’s fabulous journeys through these agencies.
Moral of the Story: If you have a creative logo, you should obtain a copyright registration in addition to trademark registration to gain more leverage in combating those who would dare copy your beloved logo. If you would like to discuss strategies for protecting your logo, be sure to contact Kristyn Webb.
Kristyn Webb is the Group Leader of Fishman Stewart’s Copyright Practice Group, and is currently earning a Master’s Degree in Copyright Law at King’s College London.
Published November 18, 2022
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