Trade Mark Toolbox: logo trade marks

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Logo trade marks – Watch out for copyright!

Logos can be registered as trade marks. An example being the Innocent logo (below):


…which was registered as a Community Trade Mark by Fresh Trading Limited, the trading company of the famous Innocent Smoothies.

When logos are created, the artwork is automatically protected by copyright and under English law the designer is the copyright owner even if the work is commissioned. It is therefore standard practice for copyright ownership to be assigned to the commissioner who is then free to use the logo and register it as a trade mark. Copyright assignments are relatively straightforward agreements but must be in writing.

Unfortunately for Fresh Trading, the designers of the logo are claiming copyright ownership and have challenged Fresh Trading’s Community Trade Mark on the basis that it conflicts with its copyright. The dispute is ongoing. However it is a reminder of the importance to ensure that copyright in a logo is formally transferred to the end user in order to avoid future legal disputes arising.