Copyright & Your Business Logo

In Australia, copyright protection is free and applies automatically when material is created, there is no registration system.

What does copyright cover?

Copyright protects creative pieces of work such as original works of art and literature, music, films, sound recording, broadcasts and computer programs. In order for a work to have copyright protection, it must reach a certain level of creativity and originality; many logos, however, do not. Copyright can not protect names, colours, titles or slogans.

Most simple logos are not covered by copyright, while more ornate or artistic logos can be considered.

Is copyright the same as trademark?

As your logo most likely falls under both categories, it is advisable to consider both copyright and trademark for your business.

Copyright protects creative pieces of work, a trademark protects business names, slogans, letters, words, phrases, shapes, logos, pictures and other items used to identify your business in the marketplace.

Copyright is automatically applied as soon as the work is created, whereas a trademark must be registered in order to protect your business.

Copyright is free, a trademark is paid for upon registration.

Copyright generally lasts for 70 years, whereas a trademark is registered for 10 years and can be renewed after this time.

For both copyright and trademark, your work needs to be original.

As a business, if you have an employee create your logo, as their employer you own the copyright. However, if you outsource your design to a graphic designer, the designer then owns the copyright. You have an implied licence to use the logo for the purpose you engaged your designer to create your logo. To transfer the copyright you need to have your designer give you a copyright notice (licence of rights) which identifies the logo hand over. This will ensure there is not confusion about the owner of the logo and the designer can not then use the identical logo for another client.

How you can protect your business.

Register your business name with the appropriate office in your state or territory.

Register a trademark of your logo, business name and any slogan with the trade marks office of IP Australia.

If you outsourced your logo to a graphic designer, ask them to complete a copyright notice to transfer the ownership to you.

Consider a professionally designed logo with artistic difference as it should be covered by copyright – so generally the more you pay for a logo design the more artistic and original it will be.


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