How does copyright on logos work?

Imagine the following scenario. You just came up with an amazing, unique product that will solve a lot of problems for your clients. You just need a name and logo. So you think about a name and pick a fitting logo from Google (“If it’s on Google I can just use it, right?”). You use it for your social media channels, website, and product packaging. Weeks go by until you receive an email that you unrightfully use someone’s logo and need to pay a huge fine or you will be sued. This is an example of copyright infringement.

What is copyright

“If it’s on Google, I can just use it, right?” This is what many people think but it’s obviously not the case. Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives the owner the exclusive rights to make copies of a creative work. It essentially means that the creator of a logo is the only one who is allowed to use or reproduce it.

Examples of works that are eligible for copyright protection:

  • Audiovisual works like movies
  • Sound recordings like music
  • Written texts like articles or books
  • Visuals work like paintings or logos
  • Video games
  • Computer software

Copyrighted does not mean a work is “trademarked”. If you want to know more about a trademark and registering a trademark, we suggest reading this article.

Copyright infringement

Copyright infringement means use of a work without authorization of the owner. Usually, the disputes are resolved through direct negotiation or in court.

You can avoid copyright infringement by following a simple rule; just don’t take anything from the internet, because it’s most likely copyright-protected by default. If you are not sure something is copyrighted, always reach out to the current user of the work.

When do I have copyright

Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. The creator of the work automatically holds the copyright of the work. As a general rule, copyright protection lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus an additional 70 years.

In case you are not the owner of the work but want to use it regardless, you can do this in several ways. You can obtain a license to use, but not own, a copyright-protected work. You can also obtain ownership of a copyright by negotiating a copyright transfer.

Transferring copyright

If you want to obtain the full ownership (copyright) of a work, you can negotiate a copyright transfer. This makes you the owner of the copyright of the work.

For example; the logos offered for sale on our website are all copyright-protected. The designer (publisher) of the work holds the copyright. But as soon as a logo is published, the customer receives an official copyright transfer document. In this document is agreed that the customer obtained the ownership of the copyright of the purchased logo from the designer.

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