Does Canva Own Your Company Logo Now? Intellectual Property, Copyright And Trademarking Canva Designs

by | Jul 15, 2022

There has been a rumbling of murmur mostly amongst the small and medium business community this week regarding Canva and their updated 2022 Terms Of Use. Sent out on a Sunday, which is probably why it took a couple of days for anyone to really notice, Canva attempted to clear up its copyright terms. Unfortunately, so far it has created considerable confusion with many business owners who have designed their logos or had their logos designed on Canva wondering if they can even use them anymore.

It’s unclear whether much has changed in Canva’s terms or if the rules over copyright and trademarking are just becoming more important now that business owners and graphic designers are using Canva to create designs for commercial use. Some important questions we’re asking are:

In truth, the answer to whether Canva owns your logo is – quite possibly, yes. Or, maybe not entirely but a third party may hold the copyright which means that no, you cannot trademark it.

Confused? Let us try to clear this up and answer some of these questions for you.

How Does Canva Work?

First, let’s understand how Canva works. Canva is an online design and publishing tool that has become hugely popular in recent years. When it launched it was little more than a slightly more savvy online version of Microsoft Publisher with a few stock photos. However, the platform has evolved to become such a user-friendly tool that many non-professional designers have found they’re able to create various brand assets and marketing materials there. Even many pro designers have been convinced enough to move away from trusty Photoshop towards this speedy content creator.

Canva is used by social media managers to fashion eye-catching templates, by tradespeople to generate business cards, by PTA members to produce posters for school fetes and even by educators to devise resources. Aside from being used by businesses and marketing professionals to create all manner of materials including brochures, and even company flyers, website banners and even logos.

Being so user-friendly, so full of template ideas and images, and being at a reasonable subscription for Pro users, many businesses and designers have been embracing Canva and using the platform to establish continuity across their visual marketing. So, it’s no wonder that recent questions of who actually owns these designs have caused concern.

Can I Create A Logo On Canva?

You can create a logo on Canva, as well as many other marketing materials. You can use their content and templates to create a corporate identity unique to you. To form something unique, you, or a professional designer, will ensure that you edit any Canva template considerably, adding either text, shapes or other attributes, content, or effects to make your logo ‘your own’.

But, legally speaking, is it your own?

If you have created a logo on Canva using their templates or images then these elements have been designed by other people. This means that, although you are licensed to use them, you cannot trademark them.

To trademark a logo it must be an entirely original artwork. That means that if you’re using an element that’s been created by someone else (as all elements available on Canva are) you cannot own exclusive rights, even if you add other elements, because the elements themselves are already the intellectual property of another. However, this does not stop you from using them, because they have been licensed to you.

How Does Canva Licensing Work?

Canva’s key appeal is its ever-growing library of elements. These comprise graphics, photos and even video and gifs. When you are designing in Canva you have three options:

No licence – Some elements in Canva are available to use completely free of charge. These are available to everybody and therefore again, cannot be trademarked because they don’t belong to you, but you may use them.

One-off purchasing – If you are not a pro user you may use pro elements. These are watermarked until a one-off payment is made to buy you a license to use the element in your design (once).

Pro user – As a pro user, all elements are available to you and licensed to you as per the terms of your subscription.

It’s important to recognise that being licensed to use something does not mean it can be included in a trademark. Unless something has been uniquely created for you and the intellectual property rights signed over to you (usually by the designer or photographer), then it cannot be trademarked because it is not exclusively yours. A trademark, by definition, cannot be something available for use by anyone else. This is what enables you to pursue legal action against other parties who use your trademark without permission.

Can I Use Canva To Create A Trademark?

Canva can be used to create a trademark so long as you’re not using the elements available in Canva. As you can upload your own designs and elements to Canva then you can create a design, using that platform, that can be trademarked. So long as all elements in the graphic are unique to you and not the intellectual property of anyone else, trademarking logos created on Canva is completely legal and becoming increasingly popular.

Obviously, this presents a more involved design challenge and so should usually be outsourced to a professional graphic designer. Designers may still use the Canva platform to crop, edit, create compositions, remove background and add effects to any uploaded artwork to devise a unique logo that can then be trademarked. Read more about How To Register A Trademark In The UK.

Not only can Canva be used to create trademarkable designs, but these designs can be sold. Hence, designers can use Canva to create and sell brand assets to companies for their exclusive use. Again, so long as they do not contain any elements designed by or created by a third party.

What Does Canva Copyright Mean For My Brand Assets?

If you have had brand assets created using elements available on Canva, or any other image licensing platform, then they can be used by you as per the terms of the Canva Content Licensing Agreement. However, anything created with third-party images or elements may not be trademarked.

The good news is that it is not legally necessary for you to trademark your logo and many small businesses choose not to, especially in the initial stages. Although it is considered wise to register a trademark, for start-ups and those with limited funds or who are selling services or products not too reliant on the company brand itself, businesses may opt to delay trademarking which means a Canva logo, even one that uses Canva elements, is entirely sufficient. Of course, this means your logo may be copied or used by third parties so you have to weigh the risk to your brand and business.

For any works using all original artwork but utilising Canva’s other features to bring a design together, this becomes your intellectual property and can be trademarked. Those businesses who have used the services of a graphic designer in creating their company logo or other brand assets should confirm with their designer if unsure of whether or not Canva elements were used in the designs. You may also want to check your contract with the designer to ensure that the IP was signed over to you when the work was completed.

What If My Canva Logo Uses Third-Party Elements?

We predict that many businesses will still choose to use Canva elements to design temporary logos whilst their business is being built. Although, there may be a view to task a professional designer with recreating this logo with original artwork in the future to make it acceptable for trademarking.

If you’re considering trademarking your company logo then our legal services comparison platform has some highly experienced Trademark Lawyers to assist you with your application and answer any questions you may have.

Disclaimer

The above is intended as guidance only and does not substitute legal advice.

It's time to meet your new
Employment Commercial Contract Disputes Property  Lawyer