Why can you copyright a Helloween T-shirt and not a phone model?
By Luci CJ
October 28, 2016 3:18am CST
With Helloween approaching, it proves that more and more people are attracted to the "Daddy's lil' monster" T-shirt made iconic by DC Comics' Harley Quinn character. What is interesting is that the logo is actually copyrighted, so most likely if you get to buy it from an unofficial online store or from someone posting it on an auctions site, it will actually be a fake. And, if discovered, the seller can be sued for copyright infringement. However, in the mobile phone industry things seem to be different: you can buy legally, with a valid invoice and warranty, phones like the Gionnee S6 or Red Mi Note 3 and Note 4. Obviously, these model codes were used by a far more famous phone manufacturer - Samsung - for its premium range of devices. So no wonder why some near-anonymous phone brands would try replicating its model codes, in the hope that their no-name products would be able to gather at least a part of the success a top brand like Samsung had. But what I'm wondering is: why can it be copyright infringement to sell a T-shirt roughly resembling that of a movie and comics character, but it seems fine to mislead people in thinking they buy a premium quality phone, when what you are selling them is a cheap, no-name one?
2 people like this
• United States
28 Oct 16
Because just like TRS-2453 it is a model number and not a name. Just like you can't copyright the number 1. Words, for the most part, can not be copywritten. Stylized images, though, can be. So Samsung (or whomever) can trademark a stylized LOGO for S6, but not simply S6.
• Cluj-Napoca, Romania
28 Oct 16
Interesting remark! And guess you are right, the full branding is "Galaxy S6", not just the model letter and number. So if the counterfeiters only put the model code - and if "Note" is a common word, not a brand-name, they may get away with it pretty well.