Avoid Legal Problems when designing a logo
How to protect your ideas and avoid legal issues when designing a logo for your business. Australian Copyright laws 1.01
In a competitive environment, copyright IS a big issue as branding and ideas are often the only thing separating competitors. It’s especially important in a buyers market where a colour or catch phrase can mean the difference between millions or no sales at all.
Australian and (mostly respected) international copyright laws protect ideas, music and anything 2-dimensional at the time of its creation. The author, being the writer, artist or musician automatically gets this protection without any specific registration. This means if you are the author of a book or piece of music, you don’t need to register the piece with any particular authority to enjoy protection under the copyright act.
That’s the easy part. The trouble starts when an infringement takes place. Someone is using your photography, writing, music etc… At this point you need some proof that you are the original author otherwise you really have no leg to stand on.
What doesn’t the ®, TM & © really mean? We see this stuff all the time and it sure does look official and seems to be stuck on all major brands. More importantly – “can I have one?” – you ask. Yes. These three symbols are all to do with copyright in different levels.
In its simplest form, anyone displaying these symbols on products or services are showing they are serious about protecting their commercial or artistic venture. Ok so what is the difference? Any author of 2 dimensional drawings, writing, designs or music can display the © symbol to alert viewers that the work is protected under copyright laws. It is important to state that it is not necessary to display the symbol to be covered under the law. But, it does make things look official and might stop potential thieves from using your work as their own.
Similarly the TM symbol is used to indicate that a commercial trademark is in use. The TM symbol literally means “trademark”, and like the © symbol needs not be registered.
Then we have that imposing ® symbol, which stands for Registered Trademark. To acquire one, you need to lodge an application at IP Australia, file for a certain category and check to see if you are not stepping on someone’s toes.
The big difference between these marks really boils down to the process when something goes wrong. You may enjoy decades of trouble-fee business without needing any sort of registration. It’s when things get ugly that a proper registered trademark can make a potentially long and painful process short.
One thing to note is that in the case of a dispute the courts will look at evidence of usage. You might think of a great name and consider it your own and find that Joe down the road has been running a shop for 20 years with the same name. If Joe can prove it, you won’t have Buckley’s chance.
One of the most fundamental things IP Australia will look while reviewing you application is if your trademark is confusing with another. If there is a chance that the public will get confused with your trademark and another business, it is likely to be refused.
So! Before you get caught up with your new name and get us to design all your stuff, ask us about trademarks and logo design copyrighting