Computer generated logos

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Sherif
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Computer generated logos

Post by Sherif » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:55 pm

I have seen a few online sites that offer to design a logo for free (with an option to buy a high-res version). These seem to be entirely computer generated, i.e. you put in a name and topic and a list of logo options in different fonts and colours and images are immediately generated.

The logo is computer generated, no doubt by simply picking various clip art images and putting together with my company name.

Surely this means that no copyright exists in the logo (as no-one created it)?

So my question is, if I were to use such a service will I ever be able to claim copyright to the logo generated.

I am guessing that trademarking (or passing off cases) would not be a problem in the same way, but I do wonder how 'unique' these logos can real be.

Are these sites just a scam?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:14 pm

Hi Sherif

You've highlighted an area of copyright law which is far from settled law. According to recent decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union, only a work which is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation can be eligible for copyright protection, yet the UK's Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988 says (in section 9(3))
(3) In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken.
which leads to something of a mismatch. The EU has not issued any specific legislation concerning works which are computer generated.

I think that, at present, within the UK section 9(3) would prevail in the situation which you describe and so copyright would exist in the logo, and unless some other arrangement was agreed, the copyright would probably be owned by the website which offered the logo-creation service. Of course there is a debate to be had over who is the person who undertakes the arrangements for making the new logo: is it the person who wrote the software (presumably an employee of the website owner) or the user who inputs the specific data such as the company name and other details? I have no idea how a court might decide that. But although I haven't checked out the terms and conditions of the sort of site you describe, I think it would be prudent to assume that unless they specifically transfer the copyright to the user, the website owner retains it.

Since you mention trade marks, there is no requirement that a person who wishes to register a trade mark needs to also own the copyright in the graphic mark, although clearly there may be problems if they don't and the copyright owner withholds permission to use the work.
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

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Sherif
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Post by Sherif » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:58 pm

Thanks a lot AndyJ.
That's been really helpful.

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