Things every designer should know about intellectual property

From the definition of intellectual property rights to how to obtain your trademark certificate, this blog has got everything covered for you.

Being a competent designer necessitates being aware of your surroundings. One of the great tragedies of the industry is that a good creative practitioner should have to deal with the tedium of copyright law, but it’s also necessary to ensure you never have to defend the truth of your work in court.

It’s terrifying to be at the whim of the courts in the middle of a copyright battle, especially if you’re a young designer. Inspiration is essential for many creators. Every day, you may go for a walk around the city or browse famous websites like Pinterest to keep your mind active and help you come up with that perfect design.

You are responsible for studying any intellectual property rules and copyright restrictions that may influence your work as a graphic designer or an outsourced web designer. To avoid any future infringements, you must empower yourself, your client, and your firm with the necessary information.

There’s a difference between being inspired by someone else’s work and plagiarizing it. This is referred to as copyright infringement. The ability to differentiate between taking inspiration from someone else’s work and just imitating it is essential for graphic designers.

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Intellectual Property

If it is protected by the law, anything original that someone makes is their intellectual property. This implies that unless you sell your ownership rights to a customer, your production is your intellectual property when you create a painting, write a song, develop a better wheel, design a character, construct a WordPress theme, or name a product.

Innovations and manifestations of findings are examples of intellectual property. A work-for-hire agreement is a lone exception to this rule. If you work full-time, the designs you make as part of your employment are the intellectual property of your employer, not your own.

The main laws that protect Intellectual property are:

  • Copyright is a term that is commonly used for creative and literary works.
  • Patents are used to protect ideas, innovations, and novel technical solutions to problems that already exist.
  • Trademarks are used to identify the goods and services offered by one company from those provided by another. Trademarks protect slogans, mascots, corporate names, and other forms of branding.

Types of creations need different levels of protection

COPYRIGHTAuthorship and originality should be protected.
Literary works, artistic works, cinematograph works, music, and sound recording works are all examples of works that fall under this category.
TRADEMARKSBrands must be protected.
Anything that indicates where the products or services came from.
Example: Logos
PATENTSThe Invention / Inventive Process is Safeguarded.
The concept for a new process/instrument is generated through talent or labor.
Examples- electrical, mechanical, or chemical.
GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONSProtect the provenance of a product name or symbol that refers to a certain geographical region of origin.
INDUSTRIAL DESIGNSProtecting an article’s design focuses on safeguarding an article’s visual qualities, such as its design, form, pattern, or ornament.
TRADE SECRETSKeep secrets guarded.
Anything that offers a person an edge over the competition is valuable and should be protected.
Example: Formulas, recipes
DOMAIN NAMESWebsite names and titles should be protected.
The ability for a user to identify firms and trade channels that are being used.

Here are six key points to remember regarding copyright for designers.

1. Copyright is automatically granted.

You do not need to take any action in order to protect your copyright. Copyright is automatically assigned to you if you are the author or creator of creative work. This implies you get to choose who gets to replicate the work and under what circumstances.

Most nations around the globe will recognize your copyright due to unilateral treaties. Of course, the opposite is also true: if you want to utilize someone else’s work, you may presume they hold copyright unless they died more than 70 years ago. Copyright has a long shelf life!

2. Your designs are safe, but your style isn’t.

The majority of the design is affected by fashion and trends. While individual designs are protected by copyright, the elements that make up a style are not. If you’ve developed a piece of furniture, a big-box retailer won’t be able to start selling it without your permission.

They can, however, duplicate components of your technique, such as the materials and colors you utilize. Most of your visual language may be appropriated by designers. If you believe that other designers are copying your style, the best course of action is to embrace it as a compliment and work hard to make sure that your work is out there and visible so that you can be credited for being ahead of the curve.


3. You can’t get around copyright when repeating images.

There’s no getting around copyright when utilizing existing images or graphics. Designers sometimes believe that by blurring, pixelating, distorting, or otherwise stylizing the photos they utilize, they may fool copyright. That isn’t the case in the United Kingdom or Europe, where even simply producing a sketch based on an image is considered a copyright violation.

You have three options: work with photos that are no longer copyrighted, utilize photographs that are accessible under a compatible Creative Commons license, or get permission from the copyright owners. The copyright holder determines the terms, such as whether you must pay and how much you must pay.

4. The customer does not immediately receive copyright.

This may seem counterintuitive to your clients: when a designer is paid to create a design, the copyright remains with the designer until they hand it over in writing. Your customer can only use the design in the context for which it was originally commissioned. They will require your approval first if they want another designer to alter your design.

Clients that are well-versed in the law will demand that you hand up copyright. It’s common to practice to bill for both labor and copyright, and this may be great leverage when negotiating your offer. You can alternatively choose to maintain your copyright with smaller customers with limited budgets, indicating to them that you would want to be involved as a designer on further modifications.

Whatever you do, make sure you talk about it with the customer when you first meet. If you barge in with legal threats years later, you won’t make any friends!

5. Your consumer anticipates that you will educate them.

Graphic designers, in particular, deal with a tangle of rights: a visual identity might include the copyrights of graphic designers, type designers, photographers, and copywriters, for example. Understanding how these rights interact is an important element of the designer’s job.

Even though your customer is the one who signs license agreements and is legally liable for any copyright infringement, they can still sue you for negligence if you fail to adequately warn them.

Your customer may not realize that a desktop font licensing differs from a web typeface license, or that pictures licensed for an internal newsletter cannot be used on the corporate blog. Assist your clients in determining their license requirements and, if required, educate them.

6. You have leveraged if you are copied.

Because most design work is customized to a setting and a customer, most designers seldom see their work directly copied. The scenario is different if you’re an illustrator. Illustrations, like pictures, are likely to be recycled in graphic designs, on clothes, or in new editorial settings once they have circulated.

You, as the copyright holder, have the option of doing anything about these copies. You don’t need a lawyer if you know your rights; you may just contact them, reach an agreement, and eventually get rewarded. If the infringing party is a larger corporation, they will most likely recognize that you are correct—and that it is not in their best interests to pursue a legal action that would cost them time and money.

Graphic Designers’ Copyright Facts


Graphic design copyright is the process of obtaining copyright in images, drawings, logos, and graphic designs that users use, exploit, and reproduce for commercial reasons without the owner’s, author’s, or designer’s permission, which is blatant infringement of their work. As a result, the Copyright law is legislation that protects creative workers against unlawful copying and use of their work.


To be protected by copyright, the graphic design must be original, developed independently by a human, and have a minimum level of inventiveness.

The copyright protection must commence when the author develops a creative work such as a poem or a songwriter composes music in any form, or when the designer builds a photoshop or designs a logo in Illustration or any other electronic form in the case of a graphic designer. The instant the work is established in a concrete form, protection begins.


Copyright registration grants different rights to graphic work. The owner of the graphic design or any person authorized on behalf of the owner may use and reproduce the work through copies and generate any derivatives from the work, as well as lease, sell, or rent copies to the public and show or perform the work publicly.

The Benefits of a Graphic Design Registration

  • The Registrar of Copyright issues a certificate for graphic design registration, which makes a public record of the graphic design in the work and offers legal protection to the owner.
  • Only the copyright owner will be able to claim or launch an action for his copyright infringement after registering.
  • If the work is registered, the owner has the right to sue the offender for copyright infringement, and the owner is entitled to monetary damages, fees, and expenses.
  • A copyright owner can register their copyright with the Registrar, and it will continue to serve as documentation of their work.


  • The first step is to discuss the category of Copyright registration with a copyright expert.
  • The owner must next file an application to register the graphic design.
  • The authority examiner will go through the application.
  • In the event of an objection, the authorities will issue letters to the parties involved, instructing them to address the inconsistencies.
  • After the registrar completes the registration process, the applicant will obtain a certificate of registration, and the owner of the copyright will be able to lawfully exercise all of the copyright’s applicable rights.


In some cases, copyright does not fully protect your design from unauthorized use. When someone can use artworks without the consent of the copyright owner or the creator, this is known as fair use in graphic design. Fair Use is usually exclusively used for non-commercial, educational, transformative, and parody purposes.

  • Works by professors: When your references remark on the copyrighted works, you can cite them in your college papers or other published academic work. However, you cannot claim copyrighted work as your own.
  • New Reporting: If you’re doing news reporting and copyrighted work is important to your narrative, you can cite it without fear of infringing on the rights of others. This contains excerpts from other news stories that are relevant to your story.
  • Criticism: You can discuss copyrighted works in your published criticism just like you would in an academic critique or a piece of news.
  • Teaching: Working with existing pieces is sometimes the most efficient way to learn. Perhaps one of the lessons plans you devised for your pupils included creating movie posters or authoring a new chapter. Under the fair use concept, such are permissible uses.
  • Parody: When the parody is transformative in some way, it is permissible under the fair use doctrine to hold a piece up to critique through parody, which is an exaggerated replication of the work for comic or critical reasons.

How to Protect a Logo Design?

In the world of business, competition is unavoidable. The only way to succeed in your business is to implement policies and plans that will give you an advantage over your competitors.

Generally, trademarks protect logos and designs that are used as brand identities to represent enterprises. Trademarks and copyrights are two separate types of intellectual property that are protected under different laws and have varying scopes of protection.

  • The first step in your proactive plan to remain ahead of the competition is to use a trademark logo and name for your business.
  • A trademark is a vital asset to a company since it helps to develop client trust in your brand.

“Do you want to use a distinctive logo to attract the audience’s attention? For the perfect logo, use Jootoor Designs, the top logo designer in Bangalore! and trade mark registration.


1. Choose a distinctive brand name and logo.

How many steaming hot coffees would you need to come up with a unique name for your company? It may appear simple, but believe me when I say that you will have to use your head for this one. Your business name cannot be trademarked with a simple term from the English lexicon that defines your service or product. For your business, the trademark should be distinctive and unique.

2. Perform an internet search

Even if done inadvertently, trademark infringement can result in substantial legal consequences.

The Indian Controller General Of Patent Designs and Trademarks is in charge of trademark registrations in India. You may perform the search on your own or hire an expert to assist you. A directory of trademark and patent attorneys practicing in India is freely accessible online. You must enter the following information on the trademark search page:

You’ve narrowed down your trademark options.

Trademark classification (there are a total of 45 distinct classes to choose from.)
Only when the search option says “no match found” can you move to the next stage, indicating that your trademark is unique.

3. Complete the trademark application form.

You must file to register your trademark after establishing its distinctiveness. Download the Form – TM 1 trademark application form from the Controller General’s website. The form will set you back roughly INR 3500 (price subject to vary), which is a one-time fee payable at the time of procurement. You must send the following documents with your application:

  • If there are numerous owners, identification evidence of the directors, as well as proof of address, is required.
  • Your product or service description should not exceed 500 words.
  • A typical logo design of 9 x 5 cm

4. Submitting an application for a trademark registration

The trademark registration application can be manually filed or electronically filed. Manual filing entails presenting a trademark application form in person at one of the five Trademark Registry Offices, which are located in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Chennai. After you’ve submitted your application, you’ll get an acknowledgment within 15-20 days.

E-filing is straightforward, and you will get an acknowledgment of your application very instantly.

5. Examining your application for a trademark registration

The application is currently being evaluated by the concerned authorities to guarantee that your brand name is unique. The registrar ensures that the name does not clash with any current or pending trademark applications and that all legal requirements are met. This one will be easy-breezy for you if you truly tortured your brains to come up with a distinctive name.

6. Articles in Indian Trademark Journals

Your trademark name and logo are published in a reputable Indian Trade Mark Journal if you have successfully navigated all of the previous steps. It’s time to rejoice if no resistance to your selected company name is presented within 90 days or even 120 days in some situations.

7. Obtaining a certificate of trademark registration

Your trademark name and logo are formally protected if the registrar receives no objections within the time limit. Finally, you will obtain a Certificate of Registration with the Trademark Registry’s seal.

Woohoo! You’ve finally finished it. The entire procedure takes 15-18 months from the moment you file for a trademark to the time you obtain it. Your trademark name and logo are legally valid for ten years and can be simply renewed by paying a renewal fee.

Are you preparing for a career in business? Here’s everything you need to know:



It’s critical to understand who owns which rights to a design and how it might be utilized. If you’re not sure whether a design idea is a fair use or maybe considered infringement, play it safe and don’t utilize it.

Having a working relationship with an attorney who can assist you with such situations is crucial for small business owners. You can make one of the most beneficial investments for your business by seeking out this type of advice.

For the protection of graphic designs, India has a well-defined and effective statutory system. The Act includes substantive criteria for copyright and intellectual property protection, thus the author must meet all of the registration requirements in order to have his work protected.

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