Trademark Problems With Non-Profits – My Husband Made That Logo, I Watched Him Design It


Not long ago, I was reviewing a stellar level logo that was done by a gentleman whose wife had started a non-profit group. There was a contest for the best logo, but the ones coming in were quite underwhelming and less than noticeable, what the organization needed was something to wow the new members and give life to the fledgling organization. They asked me what I thought of the newest logo entry, done by the founder's (wife's) husband, so I told them what I thought; "It's great."

In fact it was so great, I asked its authenticity, even though I realized her husband was an accomplished graphic designer. Neverheless, I went online to search similar logos and I found one so similar it was eerily familiar. Did he copy it, or did he search online, find it and modify it to the point at which it was different enough to not look like a copy, but still contained the same basic elements to catch your eye? Hard to say, I am not the judge or jury, okay so, let's talk say we?

You see, I mentioned this to the founder of the non-profit group, and she said; "I watched my husband create it, he did not copy it, he created it from scratch, so, we do not have to worry about copyright or trademark issues." Well, I guess I got my answer, he did not use that other logo As his muse, never neglect the logo was too close and similar, so using it would be legally unwwise. Now you might think that the lady and her husband are protected because they came up with it using original thought and creativity, but the law does not work that way.

If the true owner of that trademark sues the organization for using that logo because it is so similar to their registered trademark, then they can force them to stop (cease and desist) an sue them if they do not. Consider this, if someone used the Golden Arches used by a famous QSR (quick service restaurant), Fast Food Franchise, it does not matter if they were divinely inspired or not, they still can not use that mark in commerce. There is more than enough case law to back up the trademark holder in that case, or indeed, in the case study I explain above.

I did alert the non-profit group founder as to this reality, but she did not understand what I was saying. I hope you do. Please consider all this and think n it.


More from Erik Hellerström

Breaking Through the Language Barriers

One consistent issue that may arise when traveling the world are the...
Read More