Displaying your logos on the internet is a way to show your logos in front of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. This is great if you want to share your skills or sell your logos, but can also come with a negative side effect: people and companies can simply copy or use your logo without your permission. Most of the time, you won’t even know if your logo is being stolen. You obviously don’t want people to just run off with your creative work without paying you or giving you any credit…
Find out if your logo is stolen
With the advantage of your logos being easy to find on the internet, it is also easy to trace your logos if they are unrightfully being used by others. In this article we’ll cover several tools that will help you to trace your logos on the internet. And go over the steps you can take to take these logos offline or force the user to compensate you. So how can you check if your logo is stolen?
Reverse image search engine
Reverse image search is a way to look up visually similar images based on a sample image (in this case your logo). These tools have become very common among search engines. They work extremely well because they daily index millions of websites, including images used on these pages. When using such a tool, the reverse image search engine will go through the entire index in a matter of milliseconds; looking for a perfect match or images that look similar to your logo. There are many different search engines that use this feature. We have tested the most common ones for their functionality and how well they work for tracing back your logo. Based on these tests, we have created an unranked list down below.
Google is overall the best reverse image search tool you can use to trace back your logos, because Google indexes almost every site. However, there is a catch. Uploading your image to Google reverse image search usually won’t give you all the results, because Google provides different results per device. Google will also show different results when searching from another Google account or when you search in incognito mode. It’s therefore recommended to reverse image search a logo on both desktop and a mobile device. An extra feature for Google Reverse Image Search is that if you are using Google Chrome as your web browser, you can right-click on images on a website and select: “Search Google for this image” to look it up directly. This works a little better and saves you some time.
Yandex turned out to be the best reverse image search tool. In most cases we were able to trace a stolen logo. It especially works great for logos being used on YouTube. However, one of their flaws is that they provide many irrelevant results; resulting in a lot of results to look through. Yandex also does not catch content from sites like Instagram or Facebook very well.
Bing is very similar to Google. Google usually gives better results, but tends to miss results sometimes. Using both Bing and Google gives you a great chance in catching most of the results.
TinEye is a service that focuses entirely on reverse image search, and even though they are advertised as a great way to find stolen content, they turned out to be worse than Google, Yandex and Bing. In our case, this is because TinEye is not very good at logos with watermarks. Since logos on Scalebranding contain watermarks, it is wise to avoid this search engine. But if you are checking a logo that does not contain a watermark, it’s worth giving TinEye a try.
Search by Image browser extension
Search by Image is a browser extension that will make tracing your logo trough reversed image search a lot faster. When you use it on a logo that is placed on a website, it automatically puts the logo through multiple (up to 30+) reverse image search engines. The extension opens them all in different browser tabs. You can go through each of these tabs and check if your logo is unrightfully being used. An additional option is that it is possible to select a specific part of an image. For example; you can select only the icon of a text logo to search for similar images to that icon. This option can be set at the settings of the extension.
Scalebranding Theft Check Tool
If you are a designer at scalebranding.com, you can use the Scalebranding theft check tool. This tool is built into the website. You just need to drag or paste the logo image link into the input field, click the button and the tool shares the image with the 3 best image search engines to look for similar logos. It’s an easy way to instantly check your logos without the need of installing a browser extension.
Tips to upper your reverse image search gain
- Different image sizes of your logo can give very different results, it is useful to check at least 2 sizes of your logo (for example the thumbnail of the logo on an archive page and a thumbnail at the vendor store-manager page).
- Regularly check if your logos are being used by third parties without your permision. Every day your logo can be stolen by different people. Also people you have contacted before for stealing your logo, may use your logo again because they think you won’t contact or find them again. We recommend checking your logos monthly.
- Go incognito. Many search engines have built an algorithm based on your search history. This might sometimes give you different results when using reversed image search tools. Tracing logos in incognito mode usually gives you the best results with some search engines.
Take action against logo thieves
You have found an individual or company that unrightfully uses your logo. What to next? Now it’s time to take action! But it’s important to do this the right way.
First, start a friendly conversation
First thing to do is to start a conversation between you and the person using your logo. The tone of the message has to be calm and respective, as you can’t be sure if someone is stealing on purpose or if they “bought” it from a third party. In some cases they paid a little bit of money to someone directly, through some stock site or a logo contest website. When starting a friendly conversation, you can explain the issue without directly offending the person using it.
You can contact the user through their social media or through their contact form on the website or via a displayed e-mail.
Hello BRAND NAME.
My name is YOUR NAME. I am a designer of the logo you are currently using on PLATFORM.
I will kindly ask you to put me in contact with the owner of the business.
Current use of the logo violates my intellectual property as the logo is copyright protected and in order to continue to use it you’d have to buy the rights to it. I am aware that you might have found the logo image on Google and decided to use it, but if you look closely under the image, when found on Google, it clearly states that the image (logo) is copyright protected. Please read Berne Convention on Copyrights in case you wonder how copyrights come into existence.
Original work, with date of creation, can be viewed here: URL OF THE LOGO (This can be the place where you have the logo for sale).
Please contact me in the next 24 hours in order to resolve this, otherwise I will be forced to report you to PLATFORM for copyright infringement.
Now, this message can be written differently, it all depends on how you want to approach the person using the logo. When we asked experienced designers on Scalebranding, they like to keep it short, clean and to the point. Key steps are to introduce yourself so they know who you are, to provide a link to the original logo and an explanation on what will happen if they do not remove, contact you or buy the logo from you (this has happened a lot of times with Scalebranding designers if you clearly indicate where it is for sale).
Take it to the legal way
If a friendly conversation doesn’t work or you can’t find contact information, then there is an option to file a DMCA notice. This informs a company, web host, search engine, or internet service provider that they are hosting or linking to material that infringes on a copyright. The party that receives the notice should take down the material in question as soon as possible. This is based on the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This technically only means that American companies are required to act to this, but after the experience of various Scalebranding designers, many non-American companies also listen to this notice.
DMCA Notice Example:
Subject: DMCA Notice (but for non american companies “Copyright Infringement”)
Address: ABUSE E-MAIL OF HOSTING PROVIDER
I am the copyright owner of the logo being infringed at:
URL OF THE WEBSITE
URL OF THE INFRINGING IMAGE (Right click – Copy image address)
The original work can be viewed at:
URL OF THE ORIGINAL LOGO
This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to effect removal of the reported infringement(s). I request that you promptly remove the infringing content and prevent the infringer from posting the infringing content to your servers in future.
I have a good faith belief that the use of this material in such a fashion is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or by applicable law. Under penalty of perjury I certify that the information provided here is accurate and that I am the copyright holder.
Please contact me to indicate the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.
/s/ YOUR FULL NAME
YOUR FULL NAME
Where to send the DMCA notice to?
Almost every major website has a page on where you can contact them about copyright infringements. We have listed a few below:
- Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/535503073130320/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/634636770043106
- Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/forms/dmca
- YouTube: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/9516993
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/legal/copyright-policy
- Shutterstock: https://www.shutterstock.com/terms/dmca-notice
Can’t find contact information on their website?
If you can’t find contact information on the website that is using your logo, then you need to go to the website’s hosting provider. But finding a hosting provider can be tricky. You have to be sure you are contacting the right hosting provider in order to get the content removed from the website.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Use a nslookup tool like Kloth nslookup. In here, just paste the website URL. You will get and IP address that is connected to the website URL.
- Look up this IP address at Arin. On this page, you will be given the name of the hosting provider and an abuse e-mail, where you can submit a report for a DMC notice. The best way to do it is to actually go to Hosting provider’s website and check if they comply under DMCA or have their own form to fill out and submit the report. In case they don’t, you can use the abuse e-mail address.
In some cases a website will be protected by a DNS service like CloudFlare and cover the name of actual Hosting provider. That will also be shown by the above steps. In these cases you can fill out a form on CloudFlare or another DNS service providers and they will forward it to the website owner and to their Hosting provider. For example, when filling in the CloudFlare form, in the dropdown section, choose “Copyright Infringement and DMCA Violations“ and follow the steps.
One thing to keep in mind is that you always and everywhere submit a description of your logo that goes along with the logo, and submit an URL of the original work. In the Cloudflare form they do not ask for a URL of the logo, but will follow up with request for it, if you do not provide such in the report. When you have filled in the form, Cloudflare will forward the report to hosting providers and the website owner. However, some hosting providers request that designers manually need to fillout the form. If this happens, you can send a DMCA notice or copyright infringement notice to this specific hosting provider.
Conclusion and credits
We hope this article provided you with new insights and information on how to handle with companies and individuals that unrightfully use your logos. The covered tools are a great way to trace back your logos all over the internet. In combination with actively reporting unrightfull usecases of your logo, this can bring you more logos sales. If you’re a Scalebranding seller, you can use our Theft Check Tool to check if your logos are stolen or unrightfully being used.
This article was certainly not possible with some great help from experienced Scalebranding designers. Special thanks to Eclipse42 for explaining his entire, detailed process on tracing unrightfully used logos and reporting them.