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Protecting Your Brand: Copyright Law


Protecting Your Brand: Copyright Law

While organizations don’t often pursue this protection, logos are typically protectable by copyright law. Make sure your organization, and not an outside person or agency, owns the copyright to your brand’s logo.

Advertising/marketing agencies will often include an assignment of rights, titles and interests (including copyright interests) to their clients in their letters of agreement. While trademark infringement requires proof of “confusing similarity,” copyright infringement requires proof of “substantial similarity.”

Online legal interpretation is evolving, but in general, organizations whose brands are strong and well known (“famous brands”) can legally defend their names and other marks against unauthorized use in domain names and <META> tags. (Playboy (unsuccessfully) and Estee Lauder (successfully) sued other sites for using their brand’s names or slogans in their site’s meta-tags.)

Other online legal issues include the following:

•    cybersquatting – people who register and warehouse domain names that are other party’s marks
•    for-pay search engines selling marks as keywords to businesses that don’t own the marks
•    spammers who use other mark’s e-mail addresses as return addresses for their solicitations.

Special Problems: Organizations that License and Franchise their Marks

Organizations that license and franchise their marks encounter added challenges to protecting their marks. License and franchise agreements should be drafted to provide maximum control over the mark and to minimize the mark owner’s exposure to liability. Further, every effort should be made to establish processes to review, approve and monitor use of the mark by licensees and franchisees.

The Blake Project Can Help: Accelerate Brand Growth Through Powerful Emotional Connections

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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