Crafting eye-catching designs and unique branding can set your products apart. However, there are limits to what can be protected through copyright. In this blog post, we’ll explore five aspects that packaging companies cannot copyright.
1. Basic shapes and structures
Firstly, while packaging design can be a work of art, the fundamental shapes and structures used cannot be copyrighted. Squares, circles, triangles, and other basic shapes are considered part of the public domain. This means that other packaging companies can use similar shapes without infringing on your copyright. However, it’s important to note that unique arrangements and combinations of these shapes may still be eligible for protection.
2. Common words and phrases
Secondly, in the competitive world of packaging, catchy slogans and common words are often used to convey messages and connect with consumers. Unfortunately, these everyday words and phrases cannot be copyrighted. If your packaging proudly displays phrases like “Quality Guaranteed” or “Eco Friendly,” other companies can use similar language without legal repercussions. This reinforces the importance of creating distinctive and memorable branding beyond just words.
3. Functional features
Packaging serves a functional purpose, and certain features, such as closures, openings, and handles, are designed to serve that purpose efficiently. Copyright law doesn’t extend to these functional aspects. While they may be patented, they won’t be protected by copyright. It’s essential for packaging companies to differentiate between design elements that are primarily functional and those that are purely decorative.
4. Blank packaging templates
Many packaging companies utilise blank packaging templates available online or through design software as starting points for their projects. These templates, while convenient, cannot be copyrighted. They serve as a foundation for design but do not provide exclusive rights. To stand out, packaging companies must go beyond these templates and incorporate unique elements that are distinct from the basic design structure.
5. Standard colour schemes
Lastly, colours play a significant role in packaging design, and certain colour combinations become associated with specific industries or product categories. However, standard colour schemes, such as red and white for a soda brand or green and yellow for a cleaning product, cannot be copyrighted. Others are free to use these colours in their packaging without infringing on your copyright. To establish a unique visual identity, packaging companies should explore custom colour palettes and combinations that reflect their brand’s personality.
While copyright might not cover these aspects, packaging companies have other tools at their disposal to protect their intellectual property. Trademarks, patents, and trade dress can be used to safeguard unique design elements, logos, and branding that go beyond what copyright can achieve.
By focusing on distinctive and original design elements, branding, and functional features, packaging companies such as Carrier Bag Shop build a strong and recognisable presence in the market, even in areas where copyright protection is limited.