30 Responses to Trademark, Copyright and Logos

  1. Mary Layton says:

    Thanks for this Jon – I've actually been wondering about how to proceed with a project in regards to TM – but it is SOOOOOO costly to actually register something. I was particularly intrigued by this statement:
    "…there is no registration requirement in the U.S. to obtain a mark or sue for trademark infringement…"
    Does this mean one can slap the TM on one's logo without having to register it?

  2. You are right that it is expensive and confusing to register a TM. You are also right that you don't need to register to use the TM on one's logo. HOWEVER, if you want to use the ® symbol you will have to register. Hope that clears things up!

  3. Mary Layton says:

    Ahhhh! Yep, that 'splains it! I'd also wondered why some trademarks have just TM on 'em and others have the ® symbol! Thanks!

  4. Wow, nice breakdown. I learned something. Thanks

  5. [...] to give, just a lot of gray area that has to be taken one case at a time. read the full article here Above picture is taken from Stephen Downes’s flickr [...]

  6. [...] click here to read a great article from http://www.plagarismtoday.com about copyright issues, as they relate to [...]

  7. [...] If you’re a designer and haven’t yet, you should definitely read this article over at Plagiarism Today. [...]

  8. [...] Trademark, Copyright and Logos (plagiarismtoday.com) [...]

  9. [...] Trademark, Copyright and Logos (plagiarismtoday.com) [...]

  10. [...] how they can be protected by both copyright and trademark at the same time. The article featured a post on the topic posted on Plagiarism Today that has been receiving a great deal of attention on the [...]

  11. Anonymous says:

    Solid information in regards to copyright & trademark being interlinked when it comes to ownership and service product. I certainly appreciate your information that there is no trademark registration requirement to go along with a copyright registration in regards to intellectual ownership. A good supportive link would of been even better!

  12. [...] In a nutshell, any element that constitutes a branding package; this could be your client’s business name (remember names aren’t protected by copyright), logos (which are also protected by copyright law, but to a more narrow extend that only covers the expression of the designer’s creativity), sounds or colors (think about the Coca-Cola red). PlagiarismToday explains very well the difference between Copyright and Trademark. [...]

  13. [...] and trademark can cross over.  As cogently explained in Plagiarism Today’s post, “Trademark, Copyright and Logos,” nothing in the law makes the two rights mutually exclusive. So if your logo shows a [...]

  14. [...] with logos, there’s an interesting blending of trademark and copyright law. The reason is that logos, by their very nature, used to represent a business, making them an issue [...]

  15. [...] read the full article here [...]

  16. claydog88 says:

    I know this is an old discussion, but haven’t been abe to find anything on my question, anywhere. I was going to do a mixed media re-creation of a logo, or several different ones, to celebrate the beauty of the design. I work in polymer clay and found objects mostly. Would this be a violation, or is it legal. And does it depend on the company, would I need to get their permission to use it. Would it be considered parody? Thanks for any help on this.

    • plagiarismtoday says:

       @claydog88 There are a lot of potential issues here including trademark and copyright ones. Most likely, if the design is not copyrightable, as long as you don’t create the logo in a way that will be confused with an official representation of the company, you should be fine. But it depends on the logo. Read the article above and see if it qualifies for copyright protection before proceeding. 

  17. Maarkyy says:

    Hi there, I am a student artist and wanted to know if you can write your name on someoneelses logo if you have re-drawn it? This Artist Paul Heard has removed the Olympic copyright trademark and written his own name on the logo’s, so it looks like he has designed Manderville, the lion with the red andblue mane, all of the official logos’s.The paralympic logo, and paralympic GB.


    He also says I was responsible for designing Olympic and Paralympic themed illustrations in response to visitors’ requests.

    Doesnt the guy who designed the logo have a right to have his name there?

    Thanks for your help in my quiery. I want to draw logo’s and put my name on but it wouldnt really be my work.

    Thanks again

    Paul Heard – Art Animation Video Community Project | Projects http://www.paulheard.comI‘m Paul Heard, an independent artist from Chelmsford in Essex. I specialise in painting, animation, video editing, photography, illustration and graphic design

    • Paul Heard says:

      Hi Mark,

      That is a fair point regarding the work I carried out during the Olympics last year. My intention was not to take credit for the original logos/designs, and have therefore updated the information, crediting the original designers. I was following instructions from Samsung (official sponsors of the event) on what was/wasn’t allowed to be included in designs, but in hindsight can see that signing the designs myself could have been a bit misleading to those who saw the designs out of context.

      I hope you’ll understand that it was not my intention to mislead people into thinking i designed the original logos, but was simply celebrating the essence of the Olympics, with the iconic logos playing a huge part in the event’s identity.


  18. Judy says:

    What about using logos on cake?

  19. apron lady says:

    I want to put a couple iron on daisy’s on the corners of my aprons im going to sell, do I have to get permission for this ??

  20. [...] -usually these IP rights do not overlap, but there are rare cases, and not applicable to our topic: Trademark, Copyright and Logos | Plagiarism Today So please be careful when using legal terms, precision is important otherwise this kind of [...]

  21. martin mercado says:

    My business is a service, ive been putting TM on all my ads, i dont like the look of SM, am i still safe? thanks for your help

  22. Becky says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thank you for posting such great information. I am working on a logo for the company I work for to be used internally for an employment branding initiative. The initials for this campaign are M & M, so we thought it would be cool to design the logo roughly around the m&m candy logo. I did not use the same font, but something fairly similar. The colors are also very different. I also added some other elements to the design that are different to the original m&m logo. We will may use it on t-shirts for employees, communications and possibly promo items. Would this be a trademark or copyright violation? We aren’t even close to being in the same industry as m&m’s and are definitely not using the logo to make money. We may post photos of our employees in their t-shirts with the logo on them to our website, but other than employees wearing their shirts around it really wouldn’t be visible to the general public. Any words of advice. It’s hard to find really specific information like this.

    Thank you,

  23. Rick says:

    We had a logo designed for our company and have had the copyright transferred to us from the designer. Are we now free to alter the color(s) of the logo or to reshape and redevelop as we see fit?

    • Ian says:

      Rick – If the designer has assigned or sold outright the logo design to you ( check your purchase order , invoice , sales order from designer or other documentation ), in the absence of any other wording the copyright is entirely yours and you are free to do with it what you like and each iteration will belong to the company. Note the designer may have retained a right to use the logo in his portfolio of work to show what he has done.

  24. Sandy says:

    What if the owner of the business is also the logo designer how does one copy write it!

  25. Anthony Bower says:

    If someone could answer my question I would appreciate it.
    We operate a retail distribution business where we sell brand name merchandise to our customers whom sell those items in their stores. Some of these items in the electronics departments are costly so we lock them up in a glass case. To identify these item in the display case we have put together some price tags that include the price, a picture of the item and the logo of the company that makes the item. Are we infringing on the companies logos and stock pictures if the signs are being display with their product to help sell their product?
    For instance, one of our items is a Cobra Radar Detector. The tag shows a picture of the radar unit and the Cobra logo with a short description, barcode and retail price.

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