How to Avoid Rejection: Trademark/Copyright
When it comes to trademarks and microstock resources, we need to play by the book. For this reason, including trademarked or copyrighted items in your designs or photos may be a reason for rejection.
There are so many products, brands, and even expressions protected by intellectual property laws that it is very easy for them to slip through.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common trademarks and copyright to avoid. Whether or not your resources have ever been rejected for this reason, we share with you some of the most popular trademarks that you should avoid in your photos, vectors, or PSD designs.
Brands and logos
Probably almost any brand or logo you want to use is already registered as a trademark. Here’s a list of some well-known brands and logos to avoid.
- Sports: Some trademarks in the sports sector include the Olympic rings and Olympic torches, the terms Crossfit and Zumba, and shields of soccer teams.
- Clothing: Rolex, Converse, or Vans.
- Food: Many well-known food companies have their products registered and don’t allow the distribution of their images for commercial use. Some examples are Pringles, McDonald’s fries, Coca-cola, Absolut Vodka, Jägermeister, Haribo, and Nespresso (you can use coffee capsules in your stock content as long as the design is slightly different and don’t include the brand name or logo).
- Other brands: Pix is a Brazilian payment system, and the brand has been trademarked by Banco Central do Brasil, which is why you shouldn’t include it in your photos or designs. We also reject resources with the word Bullet Journal, as it is protected by intellectual property rights, as well as images that include the Hollywood sign. Other examples of trademarks are Finish or Ariel pods and Polaroid (protection law applies to the camera design, the photo layout, and the name of the brand).
- Logos: Some examples of logos with trademark rights are Amazon, Alibaba, Spiderman, Android (both the logo and the brand name), Mastercard, WordPress and Tinder.
- Apple: It has a long list of registered products and features that you should avoid in your assets. We don’t accept images or designs that contain Apple’s brand name, logo, button, and most of their apps.
Games also qualify for trademarks covering logo and brand name mainly.
- Boardgames: Rubik’s cube, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit (logo, brand name & equipment).
- Toys: Lego, Furby, Playmobil.
- Videogames: Your assets shouldn’t include anything related to Nintendo, covering articles, graphics, screen-shots, logos, etc. Other trademarked videogames are Pac-man, Space Invaders, and Super Mario Bros. The Playstation controller is also trademarked, so we cannot accept designs or photos with the shapes and layout of the original buttons.
- Fictional: Due to property rights we reject images covering fictional characters from Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Disney, and Pokemon. Other fictional characters protected are Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Grinch.
- Terror: The main characters of the creepiest stories are also protected by copyright, such as the image of Freddy Krueger, Frankenstein (movie), Scream, Chucky, etc.
- Famous: Celebrities and fictional characters are not allowed due to image rights. However, we may accept historical figures and characters from tales, such as Shakespeare or Mozart.
Software & apps
Trademarks also protect the brand name, logo, and tagline of some of the most popular apps and software.
- Software: Figma, Gitlab, Python, PowerBI or Kotlin.
- Apps and platforms: All Microsoft apps are protected by copyright, as well as Dropbox, Yelp, Netflix, Adobe, Creative Cloud, and Photoshop. You may use “pdf” in your image, as long as it doesn’t include Adobe’s logo.
- Apple: the company has registered some of its apps as trademarks, so you will not be able to use them (iTunes, watch, Find my, App Store…).
- Social media sites: We don’t accept social media logos or brands, but no trademark law applies to their interfaces, so you can use them.
The Indian National Flag can’t be used as a design or photo for commercial use. Additionally, some countries use copyright law to prevent the reproduction of postage stamp designs.
When it comes to vehicles, such as cars, motorbikes, or bikes, make sure you don’t include the brand or logo. Also, car designs are protected by law, so avoid reproducing the exact same model in your assets.
We don’t accept images of the Volkswagen Buli and Volkswagen Beetle models, though. Segway has its brand registered, so we cannot accept resources with this name. We will also reject indoor pictures of Japan’s subway if the contain people in them.
Words & expressions
Trademark registration does not only affect products. Some well-known words and expressions are copy protected and you should avoid including them in your images and designs.
If you are thinking of uploading a design with the lyrics of your favorite song, it might not be a good idea after all. Be particularly cautious with well-known parts of songs, they are subject to intellectual property and can’t be reproduced for commercial use.
Popular expressions registered as trademarks are: May the 4th be with you, Save Palestine, Pray for Palestine, Free Palestine, Love you to the moon and back, or Movember.
Places & monuments
Some of the world’s best-known places have also been registered as trademarks and you are not allowed to distribute their image for commercial use.
- Monuments: Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Sydney Opera House (Australia), Taj Mahal (Agra, India), Louvre Pyramid (France), Brandenburg Gate (Germany), London Eye (UK), Mazar e Quaid, Seoul Tower, Pattani Central Mosque.
- Buildings: Ram Mandir Hindu Temple (Ayodhya, India), Casa Milà (La Pedrera, Barcelona), Casa Batlló (Barcelona).,30 St Mary Axe (London, UK), Moulin Rouge (Paris), CN Tower (Toronto), Pakubuwono Signature (Indonesia), European Parliament (Brussels), Burj Al Arab, Twin Towers, Tokyo Tower, Jakarta International Velodrome, Hirado Bridge (Japan).
- Awards: Oscars, Palme d’Or, Golden Globe Awards.
The trademarks listed here are just an example. There are many other brands and products protected by intellectual rights. This list may vary over time. If you want detailed information on reasons for rejection, have a look at our guidelines for vectors, photos or PSD files.