[LINK] Copyright Fight Brewing Over Who 'Owns' Steve Jobs Silhouette Inside The Apple Logo

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Fri Oct 14 09:35:58 AEDT 2011


> Copyright Fight Brewing Over Who 'Owns' Steve Jobs Silhouette Inside The Apple Logo

> After Steve Jobs passed away last week, an image quickly went viral showing his silhouette inside the Apple logo, where the traditional "bite" mark once was:

> https://imgur.com/1yI6X

> But, of course, knowing the times we live in, is it any wonder that there may be a copyright and trademark fight brewing over this tribute image? As the image went viral, many were crediting a Hong Kong design student by the name of Jonathan Mak -- who noted that because of the image he was getting questions about "buying the copyright" on the logo, as well as some job offers. Mak claimed he came up with the image in August, when Jobs retired, but it didn't get much attention at the time. Only after Jobs passed away was when the image suddenly went viral.

> But, then, over the weekend, others started pointing out that a UK-based designer, who goes by the name Raid71, had apparently come up with a nearly identical image back in May. Mak claimed independent invention, insisting that he "didn't rip off" Raid71 and that he just came up with the same idea himself:
> "I still arrived at the solution on my own, and my conscience is still clear, but I'm more than happy to acknowledge the fact that somebody did it before me."
> So that's two people. Well, now we have a third. It seems that Farzin Adeli, based in California, isn't just claiming that he came up with the idea, but is trying to copyright and trademark the image. He says he came up with the image right after Jobs' death, and insists that the image that went viral -- while a negative version of the one he made, is "virtually identical" to the image he created. He registered for the copyright on Thursday and is "working with lawyers" on the trademark. 
> Of course, it's entirely possible that all three of these folks came up with the idea separately. And while it's rare, copyright law does actually allow an independent creation defense. But somehow I doubt that would prevent a potential legal battle. 
> Still, all three of these might not have any legitimate legal claim to the tribute logo either: I would imagine that Apple could quash any attempts to register the intellectual property claims of these guys. I can't see how any trademark claim gets anywhere, as Apple could obviously claim that it infringes on Apple's existing trademarks and there would be a serious likelihood of confusion. Separately, while I think publicity rights are pretty silly, you have to imagine Steve Jobs' estate could make a publicity rights claim under California law over the use of his likeness. I hope they don't go down that path -- as it is a nice tribute. But, if the others start fighting over who owns what, at the very least, it might be good to remind all of them that probably none of them really should have any IP over the image.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
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