53 COMMENTS

  1. 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. 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!
    http://www.atinaaquitane.net

  4. 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.

    •  @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. 

  5. 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.

    http://www.paulheard.com/#!projects/c12fm

    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

    Mark
    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

    • 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.

      Regards,
      Paul

  6. 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

  7. 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,
    Becky

    • Becky – did you ever find info or get any reply on this? I have a similar situation where I am designing a logo for a high school that includes a mascot illustration and school name. I would like to use basically the same/very similar mascot illustration from a state university school logo. The university has the mascot AND text artwork of the university name trademarked together. It will be clear that the schools are different because the school name is incorporated and colors are different, not to mention one is high school and one is collegiate level. With thousands of free or trademarked or copyrighted mascots illustrations out there, who can say I can illustration my own to look like theirs? Please help!

  8. 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?

    • 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.

  9. 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.
    Thanks

  10. Can I copyright/trademark ,abbreviations of the company name / T.M / C my…logo….what are the expected cost for filing a trademark/ copyright a logo , an attorney fees. HELP !!!

  11. Were does & what are the ABC….is it a search or the filing of a domain & trademark/ copyright all at once ,, per a high price lawyer….HELP..!!!

  12. Thx for the great info.
    I am a web designer in Australia and I have a friend who has a beauty biz. She has found a logo that she loves from a salon in the US and she wants me to recreate it for her biz. The thing is their biz names are almost the same, just one word is different.. I don’t want to let her down but feel very unsure about doing this…
    Any ideas about the legal side of this? Thx so much

  13. Following Kirstie’s question from November 8, 2014. If a business is a similar business with one word changed in the name, is that infringement? I’m questioning a new venture we would like to try having too much correlation to a competitor, with just the first word changed from the 2 companies.

  14. I am very good at writing and am very happy reading your article on what freelancers are earning nowadays. Can you help me with more such wonderful blogs so that I can make money from what I love and do best? I am eagerly looking forward to read more such useful write-ups that will guide freelancers like me. I am willing to share my browsing experience with you. There are a number of micro-job websites like http://www.zopgraphics.com,

  15. I am designing a logo for a high school that includes a mascot illustration and school name. I would like to use basically the same/very similar mascot illustration from a university school logo in our state. The university has the mascot AND text artwork (the university name) shown with a TM so I assume trademarked together. It will be clear that the schools are different because the school names are referenced and colors are different, not to mention one is high school and one is collegiate level. So there shouldn’t be any confusion in the marketplace. With thousands of free or trademarked or copyrighted mascots illustrations out there, can someone say I can’t illustrate my own mascot artwork to look like just like or very similar to theirs, even when a different school name is presented with it? Does this infringe on their rights? Please help!

  16. I was about to start an artistic painting project that will involve painting a collage of many recognizable company logos, common everyday symbols, religious symbols, etc. Is this allowed?

  17. Thank you for the great information! I am currently working with someone creating a logo for my new company and realized the shape of the vehicle was taken from an actual model from a manufacturer. We are not using their name, colors, or any other likeness to indicate association, just the shape of the vehicle with my company name and color, which may not be immediately identifiable as the actual company’s vehicle. If the manufacturer were to see this, would I be at risk of a lawsuit?

    • I am writing a book for The History Press called The Lost Restaurants of Tucson and I meed images.
      Can I use matchbooks from the restaurants without worry of getting into trouble?
      The publisher will be making money and I will be making money but we aren’t using logos to sell the book. It’s just for arts sake.

  18. i used “Angry Birds” and “Tetris” in descriptive form in my app listing on Google Play store, they suspended the app for trademark and copyright infringement and said my app was impersonating one or both of the above mentioned titles.

    This is not the case as the app was clearly labelled (the Title) as “TetFlicks Lite” I had added “like Tetris” and “Angry Birds meets Tetris” to describe the gameplay style. That does not constitute as saying the game IS Tetris or Angry Birds.

    Strictly speaking Google policies relate to published apps, this app was not even published to the public so there was no exposure either.

  19. Question on a new Craft Beer logo. Customer found a stock art watercolor piece & wants to incorporate it into the logo design. There was an article in a local paper years ago (I’m from South Dakota), stating that you have to change a piece 7 different ways in order for it to become your own entity. Is this true? And any suggestions, other than contacting the original creative, to obtain artwork rights? Thank you.

  20. My question involves buying logo napkins and gluing the napkins onto plates and selling at craft shows. Is this considered copy right infringement?

    • Hi.
      I am also looking answer to this question. To what I recently understand from reading in Internet the napkin, fabric etc must be sold under commercial use licens. Then you can sale product Made with this design. But i may be wrong! still searching. Hope soon I will find out what I can and can not do with a napping and design papers like rice paper. And in Germany copyright law is even more restricted.:/
      Does anyone her know can we sale box for which decoration, design one used a napkins, rice paper with printed design?
      Thx!

  21. Hi! I am a student at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. I am working on my portfolio. I am creating officious projects and using well known logos on them to show my work with the established business. If it is used for a portfolio in a job interview, is it OK to use it? For example if I create an ad for a coffee shop and then put Starbucks logo on it is it OK, or does it violate copyright laws? I don’t know if I should just create my own logo for the project or is it OK to use a logo from Starbucks?
    Please let me know because I need to finish my portfolio quickly and attend interview. Thank you! I appreciate an answer that can help me with my portfolio as a Graphic Designer.

  22. I have this Mopar car group. Now we are coming up with our logo. So my question is, if I have a drawing and I use a Mopar M in my logo and try to get that copyright or trademark, can i?

  23. I’ve created my own clothing brand,and just seeking any information on if or will I need to trademark my company logo,and would I also have to copyright my images? Perhaps a Trademark/ Copyright combined if there is such a thing available! This will be costly I’m sure! Thanks I would love any input from you! Thanks for your time and patience!

    • Hi..of-course you need to trademark your clothing brand as soon as possible.It is true that mark your brand is a piece prolonged process, however when you are showed with the legal activity then your contents will be secure. No one can use it. Even in case you find a person using it. You may take criminal movement towards him/her. If you want a brief description about dos and dons regarding your new brand then go through this http://marques.expert/

  24. Hi..of-course you need to trademark your clothing brand as soon as possible.It is true that mark your brand is a piece prolonged process, however when you are showed with the legal activity then your contents will be secure. No one can use it. Even in case you find a person using it. You may take criminal movement towards him/her. If you want a brief description about dos and dons regarding your new brand then go through this http://marques.expert/

  25. My question was, ” If my logo qualifies for copyright protection, can someone else trademark it?”
    I’m going through some complications over a former associate trying to steal my logo and use it for profit even though I have proof of use in many ways including social media and by way of a few tattoos for over 4 years.

  26. Hi i need advice, i want to make my own logo and put it on some items that i want sell, what procedure must i follow, i want my logo/brand to be know and not somebody to use it beside me the creater.

    Please help me.

  27. Thank you for your insightful explanation of trademarks and copyrights. As an online business selling clothing, would I be making ‘fair use’ of copyright/trademarks if I displayed on my website the logos of the companies that supply my stock?

  28. hi please can you help i am am going to start up a chimney sweeping business up and i was thinking of using a pic of on my van with Dick_Van_Dyke with him on the roof of the chimneys with the children, if i was to get someone to do me a copy me a art print or photo would i be in subject to copyright law??? plese can anyone help menny thanks steven

  29. How different does one logo need to be from another to avoid trademark infringement? I thought I had read somewhere that if one was a certain percentage of it was different from another it was not an issue. As an example: If the similar part makes up only about 25% of the new design is this a problem? I would think at some point one can’t fully claim a symbol or design like a hand or paw print inside a square as their own.

  30. I have a design/logo combo ..it seems i need both tm and cooyright..should i use an attorney to.process it..i think it will have a varied market.
    How do i proceed..any contact in r.i. That id legit?
    Thanks.rita

  31. I created a series of illustrations inspired my scientific research on the effects of social media can have the brain in relation to addiction. I used Facebook logo and twitter logo in my work in a critical manner is this infringing on trademark ? I also want to sell some prints would that then become a commercial problem?

  32. What are the stipulations of using a logo of another company who has given you accolades? For example: If company A puts our company on a Top Ten List, and we want to showcase this on our website with a logo of Company A and a reference to the article or list we were placed on. Do we need permissions to use their logo?

  33. I make hairbands in England and the logo I use I have discovered is the same as an entertainment company in India of the same name. It has no indication of TM etc. Can I carry on using the logo? I only sell to the local schools but I do have a facebook page using the logo.

  34. I am a graphic designer working for a company that has a product trademarked with a name similar to another trademarked product in the same marketspace (I’ll change names, but our product is trademarked as “COMPANYNAME THING” whereas this other company has a trademarked product called “THING”). For example, think of these as something like a shoe being trademarked as “Nike Shoe” where another company has a trademarked product “Shoe.”

    I have been asked to redesign the product’s logo, and I have come up with designs that incorporate only our product’s name — but not the company’s name — into the logo with the use of a symbol. This symbol is also trademarked by my company for a related product. Would this be an issue? If my logo does not include “COMPANYNAME” in it, is that a problem? I haven’t found any information on this. I do not want to infringe on another company’s trademark with my designs, but my thought is that if I use the product name (which both of these products share the same name, but our trademark has the company name in front of it and theirs does not) and pair my product name with an associated symbol that it would be okay.

    Someone please help with this! Nobody at my office can answer this and I’m about to go ask an attorney.

  35. What is the longevity of a Logo trade mark?

    Example: I want to use a Logo from a company that although still exists, hasn’t used this particular Logo to identify itself since the 1930’s. It would be used on a T shirt to raise funds for a non-profit forum regarding similar products. We are not selling any products of a similar nature. This is a non-profit forum for the education about similar products. The company in question, has changed it’s logo numerous times over the years and various mergers etc.

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