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Lawyers: What are the legal do's and don'ts of making a new logo?

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I am interested in making a public domain logo, just as many others are.


What is legally not copyright/trademark infringement and what is? Would, for example, being round and having four colors be ok, so long as they were four colors different from those already used? Or could it be square and use the same colors? Or is it the pie-cuts, shape, forts, colors, and icons in unison that make it a trademark?


I'm not trying to be a jerk or sound stupid; I really don't know where the line lies between illegal copyright infringement and not. At what point does a trademark become infringed upon? It is a percentage or recognizability between the trademark and the infringer?


I figure I'd better ask before I make anything.




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Unfortunatly, there is no "correct" definitive answer to this. Even precedent is hard to find, as there have been cases awarded as no violation with only minor differences, and cases awarded as violation with only a single not-really-similar element.


But the real issue isn't legality. Even the thread of legal action is sufficient to quell most efforts, as legal costs alone are an adequate deterrant. Ideally, it would have no similarity to the trademark logo. Realistically, I'd avoid any specific unique features, like the little guy with the rays from his eyes that makes the X, and the circle of dotted lines.


The four quadrant grid would be hard to claim as there are for quads around a compass rose, and the four colors could belong to the MS Windows logo as much as to the geocaching logo. Still, any of that could be contested in court.


I'm willing to hear-out what Jeremy & co have to offer, but before I fork over big $$$ to mint coins, I'd certainly want to know I wasn't going to get bit in the long run.


I'd also like to know, since the minimum run is often 100 or 250, that I could split the cost and coins with other cachers, which the current logo terms make difficult. I don't need 100 or 250 coins, and can't afford to spend $500 to $1000 on them just to give away. Neuman of TXGeocoins was going for the same approach, and got stuck with a big loss, although his deal perhaps appeared a little more commercial on the surface.


I'm still not sure all these concerns will be addressed.

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Rules, regulations,lawers? I started coming to these boards over 1 1/2 years ago, & back then, our biggest dilemma was whether to call this a game or a sport. It's getting to the point where it doesn't sound much like either anymore. No wonder so many of the folks that were here, almost on a daily basis back then, aren't heard from anymore. icon_confused.gif



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I agree wholeheartedly with you Gimpy. This whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth, and bad sentiment all around. I'm a relative newcomer to GeoCaching compared to most here, but all these legal complications are not helping me to feel welcome.


I was just in the effort of deciding what to make my signature item, and thinking about geocoins, when all this started. I've researched 4 or 5 mints, and talked with a couple. Cost is still an issue, as coins ain't cheap.


I know a few other cachers in my area, but not enough to go in together on a coin run. I'd have to split the cost in some way, but I understand that makes it a commercial effort, and violates the trademark rules. All in all, right now, I rather go into it with a public domain logo and sidestep any legal hassles safely. That would allow me to use the coins in any way I see fit, including selling them on the internet if necessary, to recover my costs.


Still, I'll remain open minded, and probably wait and see what Groundspeak comes up with. I just hope they didn't pick one of those mints that charges $600 per face for a custom die, and $7/coin for minting, along with extra charge for mating your artwork to Goundspeak's obverse die face.


[This message was edited by LongDogs on October 06, 2002 at 04:16 PM.]

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We went on a nice geocache hike today, came across an historic cemetary, came upon a ridge with a beautiful view and with hawks circling over us, met some fellow geocachers, and learned about some interesting caches in the next state over. It was a good day. The only lawyer I came upon was me (non-practicing). Cache On, FISUR

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The logo design was based on the original t-shirt design, which was based on a site called SixDegrees during the hey day of the dot com. When we were trying to change it to something easier to make into an icon, I recommended the 4 box. The colors were chosen by the designer. It is uncanny about the design being very similar to the Windows logo.


I obviously don't know what is legal and what isn't about logo design.


Jeremy Irish

Groundspeak - The Language of Location

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