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id007
Community Member

Logo plagiarism

Today, while browsing the internet, I discovered that 'my' logo I had paid a significant amount of money for from a highly-rated freelancer on Upwork was actually stolen from a well-known Spanish music app (100% copy) - I am not sure what steps to take at this point, as it has been over six months since we designed this. Has anyone ever experienced something similar?

 
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egaruth
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Ian, 

 

Thank you for reaching out to us. I've shared your post with the team. Somebody will reach out to you for more information and to discuss further steps.

 

~ Nikola
Upwork

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17 REPLIES 17
prestonhunter
Community Member

re: "Has anyone ever experienced something similar?"

 

Yes. Thousands of clients have experienced something similar. There is nothing new about your experience.

 

re: "I am not sure what steps to take at this point, as it has been over six months since we designed this."

 

Your choices are:

a) Continue to use the logo.

[or]
b) Stop using the logo

 

If you decide to stop using the logo, then you are welcome to hire other freelancers on Upwork.

 

I strongly recommend that you don't hire the same freelancer you originally hired. His philosophy about what constitutes acceptable logo creation and what constitutes plagiarism is not a match for your philosophy.

 

Important to understand: Upwork is not a logo company. It is a general freelance work platform. Upwork doesn't carve out special policies for logo work.

 

I know that you probably feel disappointed right now. But Upwork was not a party to the contract you had with that freelancer. If you wanted to do something to that freelancer, I understand the feeling... the sentiment. But I think it would be a waste of your time and effort from a business perspective.

yofazza
Community Member

If it's easily proven, Upwork should do something with the highly-rated freelancer. Otherwise potential clients reading this thread (and the first reply :p) might quickly look into other options to have his/her logo created.

 

 

I don't work for Upwork. I use Upwork as a freelancer and client. I have hired over 180 freelancers on Upwork. These are my opinions:

 

Upwork clients should understand that Upwork is not a court of law. Upwork does not necessarily take action just because a client thinks he can "prove" something.

 

Upwork has rules and procedures in place.

For example, the time to dispute a freelancer's hours is during the five days after the work week ends. (Not six months later.)

 

It is not Upwork's intention that clients ask for refunds many months after a contract ends. I think that clients should never ask for refunds. I believe refund thinking hurts clients. I believe that clients should focus on their own needs and on the needs of their projects, rather than focusing on the needs and interests of freelancers. If the original poster focuses on a freelancer he hired many months ago, rather than focusing on his company's logo, then the client is putting the needs of this freelancer ahead of the client's needs.

 

The original poster may also want to consider changing the name of his company. If his company's name is the same as a well-known music app, isn't he worried about customers being confused.

kfarnell
Community Member


Ian D wrote:

Today, while browsing the internet, I discovered that 'my' logo I had paid a significant amount of money for from a highly-rated freelancer on Upwork was actually stolen from a well-known Spanish music app (100% copy) - I am not sure what steps to take at this point, as it has been over six months since we designed this. Has anyone ever experienced something similar?


It's more than plagiarism - it's copyright infringement (possibly even trademark infringement). To continue using it would be illegal. OK, so maybe no one would notice (for some time, at least) and you'd get away with it, but that's a very poor reason for doing something illegal. And it could be seriously damaging to your business.

 

Whether or not Upwork take action, you have nothing to lose by reporting it. Whether or not the freelancer who 'designed' the logo would refund you or otherwise try to make it right, you have nothing to lose (apart from a little time) by approaching them.

 

But your priority should be getting a new logo.

 

"The original poster may also want to consider changing the name of his company. If his company's name is the same as a well-known music app, isn't he worried about customers being confused."

 

He didn't say that. 

re: "He didn't say that."

 

The original poster said:

"I discovered that 'my' logo I had paid a significant amount of money for from a highly-rated freelancer on Upwork was actually stolen from a well-known Spanish music app (100% copy)"

 

If the original poster's logo is 100% copy of another logo, then it means:

a) the name of the original poster's company is identical to the name of the Spanish music app

[or]

b) the logo is NOT 100% copy of another logo

 

A "logo" is not a "style."


If the app is "Espanol Musica!" rendered in Times New Roman font, with all red letters, and if the original poster's logo is "New Town Lawn Care", rendered in Times New Roman font, with all red letters...

Then the STYLE is 100% the same. But these are not the same "logos."

Moreover, if this is the extent to which the original poster's logo was "plagiarized," he really can't claim "plagiarism." Because more than one company, and more than one logo, can use that style choice, and it doesn't mean that one copied the other.

 

If the problem is something different, such as an IMAGE next to the company name is identical, then it is likely that the IMAGE was NOT created from scratch, but was copied from another source. Perhaps the Spanish music app uses a cute picture of a cat, and the original poster's logo uses a cute picture of a cat.

 

If this is the case, then the logos are NOT 100% copy of each other. Just the image next to the company name/app name is identical.

 

We would need to know more about what happened.

Did the Spanish app COPY the cat image from the original poster's logo?

Did both the Spanish app logo designer AND the original poster's logo designer use a cat image that is in the public domain, and free for everyone to use? Did both logo designers properly license the same cat image?

I don't know what happened.


But if the two company names are not the same, then the original poster considers one logo to be a "100% copy" of another logo, then he will need to explain exactly what the issue is. Otherwise, I won't know what he means by that.

I'm not sure I follow, Preston.

 

I thought it's like the highly-rated freelancer "design" a Windows or Apple logo., where the client can use any company names with the logo.

kfarnell
Community Member

Well, quite. There's no requirement to use text of any sort in a logo. 

25005175
Community Member

Right, and logos/trademarks can be used by multiple institutions in different industries, depending on the laws in their operating jurisdictions. For example, in the USA, federal trademark law says that I could use the Nike Swoosh for a company logo if my company does not operate in any of the industries in which Nike operates - whether or not the legal fees from the inevitable lawsuit will be worth it or not is a wholly separate matter.

Jonathan:

That's a very good point, and something that people sometimes forget about trademarks.

 

The observations I'm about to make are NOT about the original poster's specific situation, but are a general discussion about these topics:


Trademarks are specific to industries.

 

If one is talking about a logo comprised of JUST initials, then it is entirely possible for two different companies to have identical logos, and there be no conflict in terms of copyright or trademark.

 

For example, a lawn care company using the initials "TJH", rendered in the color red, using Times New Roman font. And a music app could use that same logo, with the same styling, and there is no conflict.

 

Two different companies can hold trademarks for those intials with that styling, one for lawn care and one for music apps. Furthermore, there is no copyright violation, because one can not hold an exclusive copyright to a set of initials (example: "TJH"), and one can not hold an exclusive copyright to styling initials using Times New Roman and the color red.

 

A logo designer who is not ambitious could use a tool that renders such a logo, without actually having copied the logo from somewhere else.

 

But if there are distinctive qualities to how those initials are displayed, such as if the initials were hand-crafted using illustration software and were not simply generated from an existing font or using turn-key software, then it is likely that a logo designer copied the logo from somewhere, rather than generated the logo using a tool.

 

If somebody tells me their logo is their initials, and their logo looks like somebody else's initials-based logo, that doesn't necessarily give me enough information to know whether this is a case of plagairism or not.

Thank you for your response, Preston. To clarify, the logo in question is just an emblem of my initials, there is no text involved. I have no intention of seeking a refund however I am disappointed with the outcome of this project. I had chosen the most expensive designer with the best ratings from a pool of 15 designers, yet they simply copied an emblem and presented it to me as their own work.

Please note that, I have had this logo printed on business cards, stationary, and other products, but as it is a copyright infringement, it is now obsolete and I will not be able to use it. I will take this as a learning lesson and hire someone else to create an original logo. However, I do think that the platform should have a system in place to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

c18f1786
Community Member

It's possible that the designer plagiarised the logo, but it's also possible that two (coincidentally identical) logos were created independently, by different designers, using the same design template or branding font (which are exactly the kinds of resources that freelance designers might use). Might that explain it?

re: "However, I do think that the platform should have a system in place to prevent such incidents from happening in the future."

 

I can assure you that this will never happen:
Upwork will not institute such a system.

Clients are responsible for checking.

 

Upwork is not a logo company. Upwork is a general-use freelance platform.

When I design a database for a client and create software that loads their data from Excel and other files into an optimized database, nobody needs to check if I copied the work from somewhere. And when a transcriptionist creates a text file transcription from an audio tape recorded at a business meeting, nobody needs to check if the work was copied from somewhere or if the work violates anybody's copyright.

 

Upwork is not going to modify its system or user interface to specifically fit the interests of clients hiring logo designers.

Thank you for your understanding, Preston. To clarify, logo design is a specialized service that requires creativity and originality. Clients are not only paying for the time spent on the design, but also for the creative process and the uniqueness of the final product. 

That being said, I have recieved a positive response from Upwork regarding this issue. Turns out they have a process in place already to address such scenarios and have offered to find me a new designer and rework the logo for me. I am grateful for your responses and appreciate Upwork's prompt and effective handling of this matter.

yofazza
Community Member

If this happened in the "real world", you can simply tell the story somewhere and the "highly-rated designer" will be - at least - punished by the community. There's quite a lot of examples.

 

In Upwork, your post pointing to the "designer" will be moderated.

 

 

I will take this as a learning lesson and hire someone else

 

You already chose the most expensive "designer" from a pool of "highly-rated Upwork designers". If you don't want or can't check the work by yourself, I think it's safer to do it in somewhere like logotournament where it's "less riskier" because everything will be public.

 

 

id007
Community Member

Thank you for your understanding, Kim. My intention is not to continue using this logo, as it constitutes copyright infringement. As you mentioned, there is no harm in me reaching out to the designer to address this issue and find a solution. Thankyou for your response. 

egaruth
Moderator
Moderator

Hi Ian, 

 

Thank you for reaching out to us. I've shared your post with the team. Somebody will reach out to you for more information and to discuss further steps.

 

~ Nikola
Upwork
f1ecd428
Community Member

I hate to say this but it's very easy to pretend to be a designer on Upwork. Yesterday I called someone out on using plagiarized work on their portfolio. They were showing a freepik and an etsy image as "their work". But my comment got "edited for community guidelines", so apparently you can only report them anonymously.


Anyhow, always do a Google image search on a designer's portfolio items to verify wether they are legit or not. And do the same thing when you get the final deliverable.

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