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A copyright and trademark battle is brewing, and it involves the Steve Jobs tribute logo.
Three individuals claim to have independently created the popular image, which replaces the bite mark on the Apple logo with a profile of Steve Jobs.
One claims to have created his logo in May. Another says he created his in August. And a third says he designed the logo on the day of Jobs' death.
The last one, Farzin Adeli, has since filed for copyright and trademark protection.
Adeli is going to have a difficult time obtaining exclusive rights to his image, but not because two others created it before him.
Even though the three designers can claim independent creation amongst themselves, they still copied Apple's logo. Copyright law only protects original works, and the Steve Jobs tribute logo appears to be a derivative of Apple's logo.
Derivative works such as these require permission from the original copyright holder. Otherwise they constitute infringement.
And while Adeli could try and argue fair use, the Marin Independent Journal reports that he is selling items with the design. Even though he intends to donate the money to cancer research, he may still be making a personal profit.
Apple also owns the trademark rights to its logo, which it heavily enforces. There are marked similarities between the original logo and the Steve Jobs tribute logo, which is likely to cause consumer confusion.
Any item branded with the tribute could thus be said to infringe upon the company's trademark.
The Steve Jobs tribute logo is a nice gesture, but its creators will likely be in hot water if they try to capitalize on its success.