Infringement Run Amok

by Leslie Burns

It’s bad enough when a business swipes a single photo for use on its site, but this sort of wholesale logo thievery, as reported on rockpaperink.com, is beyond the pale. By the way, thanks to Tim Smith for sharing the link with me (Tim is the brilliant designer of my Burns Auto Parts–Consultants logo and an AIGA Fellow). There’s a special place in designer-hell for the guy who runs that logo sale site.

Anyway, I think most designers aren’t aware that logos may be protected not only under Trademark law, but also Copyright (particularly these “artistic” logos as opposed to those that are word-based). I’m sure most of the copyrights are never registered (certainly not by their designers, although probably more often by their later owner, the end-client), and that makes going after thieves like this harder to do. If a copyright is not registered before an infringement, the plaintiff can’t get the juicy statutory damages plus some other goodies that make pursuing infringements more worthwhile.

Registration is something designers should reconsider. Even if you are going to assign all the rights to your client, by registering the copyright before handing it over, you are giving yourself and your client extra protections in situations like this (and others). Add the cost as a part of your charges and encourage your end-client to file a change in ownership status (that link is a pdf, btw), especially if you assign all rights to it.

Published on August 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm

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