Would Similar Elements in a Logo Qualify as Infringement?

A company’s logo makes a brand stand out. In fact, research says that the logo creates 80% a brand’s first impression. That’s why it is important to have a unique and distinctive logo design. Ever wondered how similar the Carrier and Ford logos look? The resemblance is almost uncanny. Since both are established brands which ware started in the early 1900s, the consumers have long recognized the difference in the respective brand identities. However, for new brands, things might not be so easy, and similarities in design could really cause confusion in consumer’s mind.

The Implication of Trademark Registration for LOGO

With the increase of online resources like vector designs and templates, several new brands have very similar logo elements. Not only does this lead to brand confusion, but it could also be the basis for trademark infringement lawsuits. Trademark registration is granted on a ‘first come first serve basis.’ While the same can be contested in court claiming first use, at the end of the day, a trademark registration serves as prima facie evidence. When a brand has a, have a trademark registration of their logo, and even in a situation where only a part of their logo is similar to another’s logo, it could amount to infringement and can be an effective ground for a lawsuit.

What to do if your logo is Similar?

In case you first that your logo is similar to any other logo, here are a few things that you can do.
  • Similarities in visual elements: Check how much of your logo is similar and identify if the similarities are an important aspect of both your logos. For instance, both logos have an image of a little boy. If the image of the little boy is the same, it could be a real problem since it is an important aspect of the logo, and might create confusion in the minds of the consumers. So, in this case, changing this similar might become necessary.
On the other hand, if the image of the little boy is not the same, then, there might not be a case of infringement. At the end of the day, the trademark does not create a right on the idea to use an image of a little boy and only relates to the use of a specific image of the boy with a specific styling. Infringement will not be valid on similar concepts and idea.
  • Similarities in name elements: The logo can also be word based, or might contain a few words apart from visual elements. A trademark is valid on a company’s names and phrases only in the manner in which the words were presented during registration. Companies cannot claim the rights of a part of their name and phrase
For instance, Kat Von D Beauty and Huda Beauty are both trademarked brand names, and both these logos are typography based. Both brands don’t have exclusive rights over the words used. Just because the word beauty is similar, the brands can’t see each other for trademark infringement. However, if the styling of how the letters are presented is similar, it might amount to infringement.
Also, if someone else starts a company called Huda Makeover, or Huda Cosmetics, it would again amount to infringement, especially because the trademark would be in the same class of goods and services. This is because the logo would become deceptively similar, and would create confusion in the minds of the consumers.

3 simple tricks to find out if your logo is unique

This is always a question running inside designers mind, startup founders and company CEO/s. The bothering is really important and frustrating sometimes as to understand that you invested in a brand logo is similar or infringed with some other well-known company.
There are a set of questions arise when you search your logo to find it unique and unused.

·         Which logo came first?
·         is your product/service target the same locale?
·         are you confusing your target audience with the copied/similar logo?
Here is the solution!
1. Use Google image search – Google has a built-in reverse image search tool to find visually similar images from their own set of the database. This tool works on machine learning and capable of finding similar images.
2. Industry and keyword search – You need to search the uniqueness of logo in your industry, niche manually or through different web directories, business listings. You can also search through keywords on design hub websites such as Behance, Pinterest or Instagram to find if any similar logo is in existence?
3. Trademark image search – you can also search similar images through trademark image search tool to find out various visually similar trademarks registered through WIPO or IPIndia.

If you still haven’t decided the logo design, then ensure that you do a trademark search and image search to ensure the uniqueness of your brand asset.

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