Many times I will get a client that comes to me with an idea for new artwork and they present me with something they have seen elsewhere (wether it be in a magazine or via google etc) and ask me “can’t we just copy this or do something similar”. No…. NO AND NOOOOOO!!!!!
Copyright is a very serious issue and there are some serious legal consequences for breaching copyright.
Here is an extreme and blatant example of copyright.
“Frying Nemo” and their $5000 in signage & One of many “Finding Nemo” Promotional Posters
I have no idea what the owners were thinking (actually I have a feeling they thought they could get some free advertising).
Firstly I really think that the name “Frying Nemo” is a really inappropriate name for a fish and chip shop. I am sure all their clients with kids would not appreciate having to explain to their children about why they would want to “Fry Nemo”…… hmmm
But this is not just a case of “Oops our name is similar”, they blatantly went and did an almost exact copy of the branding and typography!!!!.
There is no “grey line” argument either about which came first or even who copied who in this case.
This was a bad move on the part of the owners but it also makes me question whether their graphic designer thought to mention something to them as well?
Read more about the story here: Frying Nemo V’s Disney
On the other hand you can look at the case of the “Wambie Whopper”. This small little hamburger shop (what is it about fast food and copyright??) that has won a copyright battle with Hungry Jacks Pty Ltd.
The home of the Wambie Whopper is in Wamberal on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia. This small Take-Away shop had been making their Wambie Whopper for more than 20 years when Hungry Jacks Pty Ltd (the exclusive Australian fast food franchise of Burger King Corporation) got wind of them using the word “Whopper” and tried to get them to change it. This resulted in a massive Facebook campaign which ended up being a winning formula for the small take-away shop with Hungry Jack’s owner Jack Cowin flying the white flag and in part of his statement he announced “The decision to withdraw related to our sensitivity to being labelled a ‘bully’ and as a bigger company endeavouring to treat a small business unfairly. That was not our intent.”
Read more about the story here: Wamberal take-away shop wins Battle of the Whopper – Newcastle Herald
Just because you have registered a business name, company name or domain name does not in itself give you any exclusive rights to its use—only a trade mark can give you that kind of protection. It is definitely worth looking into getting more information about Trademarking new ideas that way you are completely guaranteed that you own the name or idea.
Here are some handy links:
Copyright Australia : www.copyright.org.au
IP Australia: www.ipaustralia.gov.au (IP stands for Intellectual Property)
Business.gov.au : Register your trade mark | Registrations & Licences