Question: How Can I Protect My Greeting Card Designs?Answer:
Happy birthday. Thank you. Deepest sympathy.
Artists are continually re-imagining new ways to express sentiments through a greeting card. As a greeting card creator, you may want to commercialise your designs as they gain traction. It’s important to understand the different types of intellectual property (IP) that apply to your design — especially because different legislation applies to each type of IP. We set out the two forms of IP likely to apply to a greeting card — copyright and trade mark registration.
What is Copyright?
Copyright, unlike other forms of IP protection, is an automatic right that exists in the original expression of an idea, for instance, music, paintings or literary works. Greeting cards fall under the definition of artistic works and therefore attract copyright protection. The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce and commercialise their copyrighted works.
Existing material can often inspire a design, but if a work copies a substantial amount or element, there may be a breach of copyright. You should look out for greeting cards that are similar to your own, and note the similarities. If you can show that someone copied a substantial part of your design on their card, you may be successful in a copyright infringement claim.
What is a Trade Mark?
A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish your brand in the market, differentiating your goods or services from those of other traders. The most obvious trade mark you have in relation to your greeting card would be the name or branding under which you sell your cards. For instance, Hallmark successfully registered trade marks for its brand name, ‘Hallmark’, and famous crown logo. If you are marketing and selling your greeting cards, you should consider registering your name and logo with IP Australia.