If you’ve decided to build a career in Graphic designing then it’s essential for you to get acquainted with the Graphic Design Copyright Laws to make sure your creations remain yours even in the eyes of law. It becomes quite crucial for you to get your signature on every design you produce. If you’re borrowing a Photoshop to wordpress theme design then it’s mandatory for you to cite the borrowed design in order to avoid any legal trouble. Today, through this blog I’ll be making you familiar with the Graphic Design Copyright laws that are a must-know if you’re about to start with your Graphic designing career or intend to start it in the near future.


Graphic Design Copyright Law 1- Get to know the list of things that can’t be copyrighted by graphic designers

As a graphic designing professional, you need to make a note of different aspects of a graphic design that can’t be privatized by law. Here’s the list of these elements:

  • Slogans

  • Short phrases

  • Measurement Charts

  • Symbols

  • Calendars

  • Names

  • Titles

  • TV Guides

  • Variations of coloring

  • Variations of lettering

However, the above mentioned graphic design elements can be trademarked. The term “Trademarked” refers to the identification of a name, symbol or figure to make it specific for a particular trader/manufacturer. To put it more simply, even if a name/symbol is trademarked, it can be easily used in a graphic design as long as it isn’t created under the respective trader/manufacturer’s name.

Graphic Design Copyright Law 2- Design Infringement is what needs to be avoided

The term “Infringement” refers to the act wherein a graphic designing professional copies a substantial part of a design without taking the owner’s permission. The exact standard of design infringement varies from country to country and is a critical issue that’s been bothering honest graphic designers all over the world.

Graphic Design Copyright Law 3- Copyright Registration is a big “YES”

Registering your graphic design’s copyright, prior to putting in print is a must. Doing this will aid you in suing somebody who tends to copy your design. By embossing a copyright symbol onto your design, you can lower the chances of your design being copied by a different graphic designing professional. In addition to this, even while suing a copycat in the court; it’ll become convenient for you to display your authenticity with a copyright registration certificate in hand.

Graphic Design Copyright Law 4- If you want to assign your copyright to clients, do it in writing

If you’re into designing a number of templates and want to assign the same to a number of people, do it in writing. This is important because a copyright that’s not been assigned in writing remains the sole property of the owner, restricting the clients from accessing the same. Documenting the access for your design becomes mandatory under situations wherein the clients believe that they are the sole owner of the design you provide them.

Graphic Design Copyright Law 5- Get familiar with the legal remedies available in case someone copies your work

If you’ve come up with a 100% original design then there’re chances for it getting copied elsewhere. Fraudulent graphic designers are always on a look out for an authentic design that can be copied without much of a hassle. This calls for a quick remedy that can prevent further distribution of your work. Here’s a list of remedies you can ask the court for:

  • You can apply for an interdict to prevent further copying or distribution of your design.

  • You can claim damages or a percentage of compensation for the copies of design that have already been used or distributed by the fake graphic designer.

  • You can ask the court to order the copycat to deliver all the infringing copies of design created by you.

  • You can ask the court to impose additional penalties on the copycat.

What’s the definition of an original work?

It’s quite hard to test the originality of a design. The only thing that makes a work original is its easily distinguishable nature. Your work must be able to stand out from the crowd and impress the targeted audience.

Does deploying your design over the internet make you lose your copyright?

I’m sure most of you might be struggling with finding an answer to this question. Well, the answer is a big “No”. Even after posting your work online, you can enjoy full protection via your registered copyright. The only important thing here is to put your copyright notice on the webpage that contains your work. This will remind people about the copyright issues that may bother them in case they choose to copy your work.

What’s the shelf-life of a copyright?

This is definitely yet another common question that’s been bothering all you graphic designers reading my post. The answer for this question is quite simple. The validity of graphic design copyright differs from country to country. For example, if you’re a US resident, the copyright for your work will remain valid while you are alive and even after your death. The country offers 70 years validity to every newly registered graphic design copyright.


There’ve been continuous discussions regarding the laws that need to be followed in order to sustain the originality of your work. I’m sure through this post I’ve been able to eliminate all your doubts regarding copyright laws pertaining to graphic designing.

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