When it comes to icons that contain logos or other trademarks, things can understandably get a bit confusing. Before uploading your set, please read through the following Q&A’s for clarification on legal use. In general, icons that use trademarks should be offered for free. There are however some minor exceptions, which you can read more about below.
- How do I know what’s a trademark and what’s not in the first place?
It’s almost always safe to assume that a logo is trademarked. Furthermore, companies can also trademark additional designs that are unique to their identity, such as Bandai Namco’s iconic Pacman character, or Lego’s classic minifigure head. Generally, if you’ve seen the design on an advertisement or on the packaging for something that’s for sale, it’s probably trademarked. If you’re in doubt, you can always go to the United States Patent and Trademark Offices and look up the design using their manual.
2. Can I use a direct replica of a trademark as my entire icon, and can I sell it?
Yes you may create a direct replication of a trademark, but it must be offered for free. That being said, it’s very likely that we already have enough of these icons on our site so chances of getting your set approved might be much lower.
3. Can I alter or re-design a trademark as my entire icon, and can I sell it?
Yes you may make your own version of a trademark, but it must still be offered for free. Variations such as background or border changes, color differences, additional elements, tracings, etc. are not enough to consider the icon as your own intellectual property.
Examples of icons which must be offered for free
4. Can I use one or more trademarks as smaller elements within a more complex icon, and can I sell it?
Yes you may place trademarks (original and non-original) within an icon to help illustrate a larger concept. However in order to sell the icon as premium, the majority of it (at least 51%) must be made up of original, non-trademarked creative work. We acknowledge that many of these icons may fall into some gray area, and will consider them on a case-by-case basis.
Example of icons which must be offered for free:
(These icons do not have enough original, non-trademarked content)
Example of icons which must be offered as premium:
(These icons contain over 50% of original content, and can therefore be sold)
5. I have a premium icon uploaded that should actually be free. What will happen to it?
Most likely the icon will be removed. While we would love to move the icon into a free set, all sets must contain at least 10 icons. Therefore unless your premium set contains 10 or more icons that should be free instead, they will be individually deleted. You can read more about our removal policy here. Moving forward, we will do our best to prevent icons from getting incorrectly uploaded in the first place.
6. Can I use a trademark as a tag?
In most cases, yes - as long as it's still a correct use of a tag (ie: don't tag an icon of a computer with "instagram" and "twitter"). In a few rare cases certain trademarks are not allowed, but we will alert you of these instances during the tagging process.
7. What happens if a company wants to prohibit their trademark from use?
We consider each request on a case-by-case basis, but normally we will remove any offending icons and try to prevent future uploads by catching them in the tagging process.