Trademark Issues With Nonprofits – My Husband Made That Logo, I Saw Him Design It
Not long ago, I was reviewing a star-level logo that was made by a gentleman whose wife had started a non-profit group. There was a contest for the best logo, but the ones that came in were quite disappointing and less than remarkable, what the organization needed was something to surprise new members and bring the fledgling organization to life. They asked me what I thought of the most recent logo entry, made by the founder’s husband (wife), so I told them what I thought; “It’s great.”
In fact, it was so good that I questioned its authenticity, even though I realized that her husband was an accomplished graphic designer. However, I went online to search for similar logos and found one so similar that it was eerily familiar. Did you copy it, or did you search online, find it, and modify it to the point where it was different enough that it didn’t look like a copy, but still contained the same basic elements to get your attention? It’s hard to say, I’m not the judge or the jury, okay, let’s talk, okay?
You see, I mentioned this to the founder of the nonprofit group, and she said; “I saw my husband create it, he didn’t copy it, he created it from scratch, so we don’t have to worry about copyright or trademark issues.” Well I guess I got my answer, he didn’t use that other logo as his muse, however the logo was too close and similar so using it would be legally unwise. Now you might think that the lady and her husband are protected because they invented it using original thinking and creativity, but the law doesn’t work that way.
If the true owner of that trademark sues the organization for using that logo because it is so similar to their trademark, then they can force it to stop (cease and desist) and sue it if it doesn’t. Consider this, if someone used the Golden Arches used by a famous QSR (Quick Service Restaurant), Fast Food Franchise, it doesn’t matter if it was divinely inspired or not, you still can’t use that brand in commerce. There is more than enough jurisprudence to support the trademark owner in that case, or indeed, in the case study I explain above.
I alerted the founder of the nonprofit group to this reality, but she did not understand what I was saying. I hope you will. Please consider all this and think about it.