Copyright in regards to airline liveries...

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Copyright in regards to airline liveries...

Post by PeterS »


I'm not actually sure what this would fall under to be honest. I want to create a livery for aircraft in a game that might one day end up in a video on YouTube. That video may be monetized in the future. So my question is, would this be a copyright violation, or an issue with a trademark? In this example I would like to recreate TWA and Pan Am and I really have no clue where to start.
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Re: Copyright in regards to airline liveries...

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Peter,

This is more to do with trade mark protection than copyright. That said logos and the like will be subject to both forms of protection. But areas on the fuselage painted in company colours, for instance, are unlikely to constitute artistic works, and much like paint on the outside of a house, would not attract copyright under normal circumstances.

And contrary to what you might think, these two brands are very much alive. Both American Airlines (see note 1) and TWA Inc maintain a number of current European or UK registered trade marks (for instance here, here and here) for the TWA logo, and much the same applies to Pan Am (for instance here), even though the old airline of that name no longer exists. See here for more details about the life of the Pan Am brand after the demise of the original airline.
And to make matters even more complicated, there are a number of European trade mark registrations for both the TWA and Pan Am logos by companies [see note 2] which appear to have no connection with either the original companies or the airline business in general (eg here and here).

On that basis I think you would be wise to come up with fictitious logos for your game.

1. American Airlines bought out TWA in April 2001 and so they are the current owners of any residual intellectual property rights which formerly belonged to TWA.

2. Afternote. It appears that some of these otherwise unconnected registrations belong to an individual named Michael Gleissner who has gained some notoriety for his speculative (some might say bad-faith) registrations of well-known trade names. For more details see here.
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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