the experience

Has someone copied your logo? What to do (without losing your cool)

Picture this: you’re sipping your morning cuppa, scrolling through instagram, and BAM! There it is—a logo suspiciously similar to yours, staring back at you. Rage starts bubbling up faster than a kettle on full boil.

As a brand and website designer, I’ve been there. From my own brand to clients, I know it can feel gut wrenching. Before you type our that aggressive DM to the culprit, let me guide you through this nightmare in an, ahem, more professional manner.

Step 1: Keep calm and assess

First things first, don’t let your inner rage demons win. Instead, take a deep breath, have another sip of tea, and calmly assess the situation. Is the logo a blatant rip-off or just eerily similar? Sometimes, similarities can be coincidental; there are only so many ways to design a coffee cup, after all. Likewise, if they are just using the same font as you, it’s unlikely you’ll have a case of infringement.

Step 2: Gather your evidence

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes 🕵️‍♀️. Take screenshots, note down URLs, and gather any evidence that showcases your logo’s originality. If you’ve worked with a Designer, it’s highly likely they will have sketches, development files and concept art. This will be crucial if things get serious.

Step 3: Compare and contrast

Do a side-by-side comparison of the logos. Look at the finer details—fonts, shapes, and overall design. The key term here is “substantial similarities.” If the logos share significant elements that make them look almost identical, you’ve got a stronger case. The more specific you can get, the better. This will help you determine how much of a copycat you’re dealing with.

I’m also going to need to give you a bit of a reality check at this stage. Not all similarities are created equal. For example, using the same font style isn’t usually grounds for a copyright infringement claim. Fonts are widely available and many brands might coincidentally choose the same one. However, if the overall design, layout, and unique elements of your logo are copied, that’s when you’re in stronger territory.

Step 4: Check your rights

The point I need to sneak in a little legal disclaimer; I’m a designer and despite all of the true crime podcases I listen to, I’m not a lawyer, so for actual legal advice, chat with a professional. But here’s the gist: if you’ve registered your logo as a trademark, you’re in a stronger position. If not, it’s still worth pursuing, especially if you can prove you’ve been using it for a while.

Step 5: Reach out (nicely!)

Send a polite but firm email to the copycat. Not a DM, an email. Track it’s opening and set a time for a response.

Sometimes, they might not even realise they’ve crossed a line or it could be completely coincidental (benefit of the doubt and all that), it could even be they have worked with a shady Designer who copied your logo. Explain the situation, provide your evidence, and request that they cease using the logo immediately. Keep it professional—no need to go full rage on them ….just yet.

Step 6: Legal up or let it be

If the nice email approach doesn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Get in touch with a solicitor who specialises in intellectual property. They can advise you on the best course of action, whether it’s sending a formal cease and desist letter or taking legal action. You’ll be looking to spend upwards of £250+ for a letter.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts or if budget doesn’t allow for legal advice, it might not be worth the stress, time, or money to pursue the matter further. Maybe the other business is in a completely different market, or perhaps they’re small potatoes compared to your thriving brand. Letting it go can be tough, but remember to pick your battles. Your energy is often better spent on growing and evolving your own business.

Step 7: Beef up your brand

Whilst you’re dealing with this, take the opportunity to strengthen your brand. Consider a slight refresh or update to your logo. It keeps your brand evolving and makes it harder for copycats to keep up.

Bonus step: Prevention is better than cure

To avoid future headaches, consider trademarking your logo and other key brand assets. It’s a bit of an investment, but it’s worth it to protect your brand identity. Also, keep an eye out for copycats regularly—vigilance is key!

Trademarking Your Logo in the UK

To avoid future headaches, consider trademarking your logo. Here’s a quick guide:

1. Search for Existing Trademarks: Before you start, check if someone else has already trademarked a similar logo. Use the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) search tool.

2. Prepare Your Application: You’ll need a clear representation of your logo and details about the goods or services you’ll use it for.

3. Apply Online: Head over to the UK IPO website and fill out the application form. The process is straightforward and guides you step-by-step.

4. Pay the Fees: The basic cost is £170 for one class of goods or services. Adding extra classes costs £50 each. So, if your logo applies to multiple areas, be prepared for additional fees.

5. Wait for Examination: The IPO examines your application to ensure it meets all legal requirements. If there are no objections, it’s published in the Trade Marks Journal for a two-month opposition period.

6. Approval: If no one opposes your trademark (or if any opposition is resolved in your favour), your logo is officially registered. You’ll receive a certificate of registration, and your trademark lasts for 10 years.

And Remember…

Don’t let copycats get you down. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but your unique vision and creativity are what truly set you apart. Keep shining, keep creating, and keep being the awesome small business owner you are.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For all things legal, please consult a qualified professional. I’m a designer, not a lawyer—just like Beyonce isn’t a lawyer (unless she’s moonlighting, but that’s another story).

Becky x
Welcome to the BLD Blog

Hello! I’m Becky. A brand identity & website designer for passionate & ambitious small businesses. This little corner of my website is dedicated to sharing the 15 years of experience I have with brands, websites and of course running a small business.

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