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Can Look And Feel Be Copyrighted?
Posted 27 December 2004 - 12:44 PM
I took a look at the company's main site and their US site, and they have a particular look and feel -- colors, navigation, a certain image used for bulleted lists -- and this is pretty much the same look as that of my prospective client.
I'm wondering if they need the manufacturer's permission to make their site look this way. To the uneducated, it may appear that the site, because of the way it looks, is officially connected to the manufacturer, and I wonder if that could get them in trouble.
Posted 27 December 2004 - 03:17 PM
here is what I turned up with a quick search:
and of course as always everything on the web is true
Posted 27 December 2004 - 03:29 PM
Posted 27 December 2004 - 04:23 PM
There is also a possible issue with trademark law, since it sounds like there may be a case for "confusingly similar". Depends on the case, of course.
Either way, if there is a legitimate possibility that a consumer could believe that a relationship exists based on the look and feel of the site, then they have issues if the manufacturer does.
Posted 27 December 2004 - 04:30 PM
Posted 27 December 2004 - 10:34 PM
Most would agree the manufacturer whose look and feel is being used could protest. But will they? And if they do so what? All that need be done is a redesign. No hard feelings.
A strong argument can be made that both parties benefit from a consistent and harmonic brand reinforcing design. Think of it as a vendor made store display.
Of course I'm not suggesting your client would not be better off in the long run with their own design. But for now...How strong are their sales and profits? Would changing the look of the site improve it or just change it?
Posted 28 December 2004 - 01:47 AM
I think it will just come down to the manufacturer's policy on the matter. some like it, some don't, but in my experience with such things, either way they probably have some sort of policy.
Posted 28 December 2004 - 09:53 AM
And what of all of the additional cost involved in doing so (time & money)? If a little research is done beforehand, the company can save that expense for other, more beneficial projects.
While it is true that the "original" company (the one being emulated) may not take any action, they could just as easily file a copyright infringement suit. I guess this is a judgement call, but I (for one) am not much of a gambler...
Posted 28 December 2004 - 08:19 PM
From the sounds of it, the original site would probably endorse a use that promotes its product. The logo cops might have some design requests to keep teh new site within branding guidelines but that's better than a lawsuit!
If they do object, your client might as well find out up front. The secret is blown as soon as the site is posted, and it's generally good practice to stay on the bright side of a supplier anyway.
No point being bashful about it - just bang on the front door!
Posted 28 December 2004 - 08:27 PM
I wrote to the prospect to ask if they have the company's permission, but 'tis the season to sit and wait for people to get back to you. They may not be back in their office until after the first.
Posted 29 December 2004 - 02:13 PM
You can always raise the issue as a detail once you have the work in hand. If your client doesn't already recognize the potential for liability, just help them look after their own best interests by getting everything clear with the supplier. Like I said, this can hardly be done in secret! If they are doing anything wrong, they are going to get caught so there's nothing to lose by approaching the supplier first. More likely, there won't be a problem at all.
Posted 30 December 2004 - 03:25 PM
Some companies that I have know appreciate their "affiliates" having similar websites as it improves the overall branding.
Posted 30 December 2004 - 03:28 PM
I don't know if he's an affiliate or not. I'm still waiting to hear back from him on whether he can assure me that his design is ok with the company. I guess that if he is an affiliate, they're well aware of him and how he's designed his site.
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