Copyright in Trade Marks

When a trade mark contains or consists of a logo, it is likely that the logo will amount to an artistic work for the purposes of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and as a result, there be copyright in the mark. If this is the case, it is important that the trade mark owner ensures that they are also the owner of the copyright.

A trade mark owner may be entitled to use the mark (e.g. by virtue of having commissioned the design under the terms of a consultancy agreement or similar), but unless there is a clear assignment of the copyright in the artistic work which is the subject of the mark, that does not transfer ownership of the copyright, and there may be occasions when this failure to own the copyright will be of disadvantage to the trade mark owner.

It is often extremely difficult to ascertain at a later date who owns the copyright, especially in cases where a device mark has been commissioned from a designer without clear written terms. We therefore recommend taking the necessary steps at the time the mark is developed to ensure that any party who owns a trade mark is also the copyright owner and that evidence can be produced to prove this entitlement should that become necessary.

If you have a specific question about copyright in trade marks then our Legal Team and Trade Marks group will be happy to help you. 

This information is simplified and must not be taken as a definitive statement of the law or practice.