Copyright Protection of a Logo
“God holds the copyright, as the sole author of life.”
Visual brand elements such as logos are protected under the law of copyright and also trade mark law. Copyright consists of exclusive rights to do acts in Australia with respect to a work for the duration of copyright in that creation. A copyright work does not need to achieve a high standard of quality in order to qualify for copyright protection of a logo. The right arises automatically and you do not have to register the right to obtain copyright protection in Australia.
The Full Court of the Federal Court in Elwood Clothing Pty Ltd v Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd observed:
[There is] ” a body of case law, which establishes that (1) whether a work will be recognized as an artistic work such as a drawing is highly fact-specific, such that no bright-line rule can be drawn; and (2) the important principle in deciding whether the work is a “drawing” is whether the work at issue can be said to have a visual rather than “semiotic” function.; at 
A business logo is relevant to protecting the visual identity of a sign in the market. For example, the visual identity in Nike Swoosh which is a check mark that is fluid and signifies movement and speed. Another example is the three stripes of Adidas which are meant to convey diversity and the international appeal of the brand symbolizing the land masses of North America, Europe and Asia.
Ownership of Copyright
Ownership of a logo lies with the creator of the work. If you have your logo designed by an independent contractor or designer, it is important that you have the copyright in the logo transferred to you as generally the copyright owner has standing to start legal proceedings for infringement. A verbal agreement does not transfer ownership and you will need to obtain an assignment of that right in writing.
Differences between Trade Mark and Copyright
Trade Mark is what distinguishes your products or services from your competitors. It is not just a “logo” and can be a letter, number, word, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture, movement, aspect of packaging, or a combination of these. The purpose of trade mark protection is for you to obtain the exclusive right to use, license and sell the mark or “sign”. Remember, a trade mark is not a business name, company name or domain name but is a sign which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one trader from those of other traders. The essential function of a trade mark is to designate the origin of goods or services to show your customers who you are. You should secure your brand assets through trade mark registration. Our Trademark Lawyer in Sydney is ready to Guide your for Registration of Trademark in Sydney
Copyright protects the form or expression of “creative assets” by granting creators and copyright owners the exclusive rights to reproduce or adapt their work in material form and to publish, perform and communicate their work to the public. It is a creation produced by a person’s skills and labour and protects the expression of an idea or concept, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it. There is no requirement to register copyright. It is an automatic right.
- The creator of a logo automatically owns the copyright in it.
- If you commission a designer or independent contractor to design your logo, obtain an assignment in writing to secure fully copyright intellectual property ownership.
- A logo can be protected under the laws of copyright Protection of a logo and also trade mark law.
- Register your logo and other trade marks to safeguard your brand from trade mark infringement.
Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.