Book Cover Layout

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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kaeleigh
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Book Cover Layout

Post by kaeleigh » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:20 pm

Hi there,

Happy New Year.

I wonder if anyone could please give my some advice regarding some new products I have created. I run a gift ware company and have recently designed some notebooks in the style of the popular Penguin Classic books. They feature the three bands, orange colour and similar font to the Penguin book covers. However, I have not used the Penguin logo or book titles. Instead I have illustrated my own icon not related to Penguin and will use my own wording on the notebooks.

Please could anyone tell me whether Penguin has trademarked the book cover layout or whether these notebooks will be infringing copyright? I haven't been able to find any information on Penguin's website about this. As far as I'm aware I should be ok as long as I am not using Penguin's logo or brand name on the product, or in any marketing materials. Could anyone confirm this for me?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:07 pm

Hi kaeleigh,
First of all, if you haven't already seen them, we have looked at something similar to this subject on a couple of previous occasions: here and here.
You asked specifically about whether Penguin have registered their covers as trade marks. The answer is no, but as I noted previously, the problem you need to watch out for is passing off, which does not require that a mark or trade dress is registered. If the buying public could be misled into thinking that your product was produced by or licensed by Penguin Books, then Penguin may have grounds for bringing a claim. You don't tell us why you want to emulate this iconic design, but if you are effectively trying to cash in on its popularity and reputation, then that leaves you open to an accusation of passing off; however if for instance your aim is parody, or indeed some form of criticism, then you would be on safer ground.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

kaeleigh
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Post by kaeleigh » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:30 pm

Hi Andy,

Thank you for your quick reply and for highlighting similar questions about this topic.

Yes, I suppose passing off could be an issue as I would be selling them to the public who would probably purchase them due to the recognisable design. The purpose of them is a parody eg, the text on the notebooks would be some tongue in cheek phrases regarding books. I intend to make no connection to Penguin in my product copy to make it clear that they are not produced/licensed by Penguin and they would be marketed as 'Book Lover' notebooks.

It seems very hard to establish whether Penguin have an issue with their iconic cover designs being adapted into spoof products for resale. I read up about Penguin taking legal action when their logo is used but I haven't heard about them taking any action with passing off and there does seem to be an abundance of Penguin themed spoof products available. I suppose the only way to find out is to produce the notebooks and see if Penguin contact me in regards to passing off - fingers crossed they don't!

Lumberjack
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Post by Lumberjack » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:03 pm

Would not the simplest idea be to ask Penguin, saying exactly what you want to do, and see what they say? Lot easier than being taken to task later!
I have asked for permission to use copyright illustrations from various companies in the past, and have never been refused so far!
Al

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