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Logo Theft Part 2 – Copy, Alter and Replicate…Intelligently Though!

Categories: Logo Theft
Written By: Nora Reed

A few days ago, we posted an article regarding the unethical practice of replication of logos. While we received a large number of comments (both in favor and opposition, and some very critical of our views!), we have come to believe that our blog has an increased readership. The article seemed to spark off a few negative vibes, and hence we felt a sequel to the logo theft post was required.

As we have stated in our ‘About Us’ web page, “Logo Blog is dedicated to giving you unbiased, reliable and independent user based reviews and advice about Logos, and Logo Design Companies.” On a similar note, we talk about the latest happenings, industry trends and culture, skills, and many more issues related to logos, design, image branding and etc, promoting excellence in logo design in general.

The LogoBlog team never intended to offend anyone, and we would like to offer profound apologies if our views came out too strong. However, this should not change the fact that we still maintain our stance on this topic. Let’s have an objective look.

One of the readers stated:

Design exists as derivatives “of”. There is no design which is completely unique, since we humans base our understanding based on shared experiences- ways of perceiving “something”, meaning that the “something” already exists. There are cases where designers just plain’ol copy and that is wrong. Besides the first example, which “could” have been copied, the other two are not.

AGREED! As humans we take inspiration from objects, instances and experiences that are already present and yes design can not be absolutely unique. HOWEVER, considering it is a designer’s job to make use of his creative talent and produce a concept which is fresh and different, originality is therefore a key ingredient to becoming a successful graphic designer.

As for the first example (the Quark logo and the Scottish Arts Council logo), it can be rightfully said that Quark did copy the logo and changed it later. Clearly the copied logo was different from Quark’s original logo, yet it was not radically differing from many other logos that use the circle with a square design element.


As shown above, each of the displayed logo bears an uncanny resemblance to the Quark logo and one in particular as mentioned previously: the Scottish Arts Council logo is too close to comfort. These logos indicate that there was absolutely no originality in Quark’s logo design and it is unfortunate that the logo mark for a brand closely associated with designing itself was a copied logo.

Moreover, as pointed out by one of our readers, the following logos belong to two very different companies and again may not be absolutely the same, but are way too similar. Thus it can be said that the designer of one of these logos did copy certain elements from the other logo.

Not to forget the disastrous and very notorious logo copyrights violation for the new fragrance by Britney Spears, introduced by the cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. It was not only a logo design ethics violation but also a shameful act as the original logo belonged to a charity organization.

Now an attempt to label these designs as instances of logo theft might be ethical for some and inappropriate for others. The subject is open for debate, objectively though!

Taking inspiration from other designs is one thing, however producing concepts that are too similar to that of the original design is unfortunate for the company that holds the original design as a trademark and is equally disgraceful for the brand that adopts the copied logo. Copying logo designs comes under plagiarism which is regarded as a serious crime.

On other note, as wrongly identified by one of the readers, the logo examples were merely displayed as visual examples to support the text, and were not intended to be used for business or commercial purposes. Hence by posting logos to support a claim, we are not breaching any copyrights, neither committing any form of logo theft.

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10 Responses to “Logo Theft Part 2 – Copy, Alter and Replicate…Intelligently Though!”

  1. Mike Young Says:

    Good overview of the issue. Wish more people would consider the intellectual property rights at stake (and ethical issues) before “borrowing” someone else’s logo, photos, etc. Keep up the good work.

  2. peteej Says:

    Reminds me of the Simplebits/Logomaid debacle earlier this year.

    http://daringfireball.net/2007/03/logomaid_rip_off

    It probably falls into the category of “derivative,” but that is ripe for debate.

    It’s not only about maintaining an absolute, militant authority over your logo, but the branding and marketing effort that should (but often doesn’t) establish and reinforce a logo. If I see a logo that bears a resemblance to the McDonalds arches, I won’t think of McDonalds at first. Seeing their logo, however, triggers an unmistakable recognition that this is McDonalds; their marketing efforts have burned the exact representation of who they are into my brain forever. A little market over-saturation never hurts either. :)

  3. ronicadesign Says:

    Great article. I agree with Mike’s comment. However as much as “we” as designers try to create new and interesting logos and identities, sometimes clients make that difficult for us. Some clients don’t understand or care about copyright issues, even after we explain and express our concerns. Some clients see an existing logo they feel is perfect for their company or brand and can not or will not look past that, leaving us in a tough spot.

  4. kat Says:

    The Britney Spears logo is a TOTAL rip of that other logo..how unoriginal and totally lame..like her music.

    In response to ronicadesign’s above comment. As designers we have to fully understand that we are hired for our creative minds and not just as tools who know how to use software. It’s important to be confident when dealing with clients and not allow them to “run the show”. Feedback is one thing, but to have a client pressure a designer to break the ethical code and copy an existing logo is just wrong. If the client’s persists, then he or she is most likely a difficult client that you’d be better off not having.

  5. Adam Seguin Says:

    That was a really interesting article. I think that logo design is like any other creative process; past images will provide inspiration for new designs. However, there is a difference between influence and outright copying. Just like the sever penalties that are enforced in Universities regarding plagiarism; the graphic design industry should not allow this type of action go unpunished.

  6. Ahmer Says:

    How many people live on earth? Six billion. How many minds does that make? Six Billion. So if one company needs a logo to be designed, and everyone is invited….. how many logos should we have for one company? Six billion.

    Instead of copying other’s design and altering it….. why not invent something that is your own and unique?

  7. Roberta Seldon Says:

    Wow! I can’t believe the Britney Spears logo. How crazy is that?!?

  8. tosin otusanya Says:

    well, in this world of techie, it’s not uncommon to have many duplication of several logos. but it means that we’ve to be more creative in our dealings instead of rehearching logos!

    i want to post 3 logos that i want u guys to critique, just a check really

  9. XpressMusic Says:

    Hi Wanted to know whether Unilever copied the logo or was it the other way round?

  10. therm000 Says:

    therm000

    I wrote about Detecting Shameless Logo Plagiarism! (with a photo search engine!) http://bit.ly/logoplagiarism

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