School logo's

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Diane Pringle
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School logo's

Post by Diane Pringle » Wed May 16, 2007 1:13 pm

We own a schoolwear shop, and have been asked by a number of parents if we will supply them with their embroidered uniform, the only problem is is that the school want to keep this inhouse.
Can anyone advise how we can check to see if a school logo has been copyrighted? Also, if the logo is not copyright, would we be breaking any law if we went on to sell the embroidered uniform?

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Post by CopyrightAid » Wed May 16, 2007 5:38 pm

Hi Diane, and welcome to the forum

Copyright is an automatic right that exists from the point of creation, so the answer to you question 'is the school logo copyrighted' is almost certainly yes, as copyright occurs automatically.

Even if the copyright had expired (i.e. the creator died over 70 years ago) I believe their are other rules that would prevent you. The logo is after all the 'branding' of the school, (i.e. a trademark). Even an unregistered trademark is protected by 'passing off' rules.

The UK Patent Office (who administer trademarks in the UK) have this to say:
If you have not registered your trade mark you may still be able to take action against someone who uses your mark on his or her goods or services without your permission, using the common law of passing off.

To be successful in a passing off action, you must prove that:

1. the mark is yours
2. you have built up a reputation in the mark
3. you have been harmed in some way by the other person's use of the mark
In the above, clearly points 1&2 apply, and if your actions cause a loss of income for the school (which I assume they would) then point 3 has also been satisfied.

My personal understanding is that if you do this and the school objects, they could file a civil case against you.

(sorry that I can't be more encouraging)

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