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A Modicum? The Test for Copyright Protection

What is less than a modicum? Apparently, the design below.

Designers of logos and other graphic content hoping to rely on copyright protection should consider how their designs reflect pre-existing symbols and standardized geometries. Designers should not rely on simple coloration schemes. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that “only a modicum” of creativity is necessary to register a copyright claim in a work. However, some works, such as Vodafone’s “Speechmark,” shown below, fail to meet this threshold. In refusing to register the Speechmark, the Copyright Office focused on the similarity of the design to an apostrophe, use of generic circle and square shapes, and “trivial” nature of the shaded red and white coloring. Despite great effort, Vodaphone could not convince the Copyright Office that the logo included more than the necessary modicum of creativity.



September 27, 2018




Himmelrich, Ned T.


Technology & Intellectual Property