Churches are notorious for ripping off well-known logos in the name of Jesus, but trademarks are not to be ignored.
Trademarks will win every time.
Case in point, an article I read in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week. Father Luke Strand, a priest in Wisconsin hoping to create humor and a “conversation starter,” designed a logo very similar to “Geek Squad’s” and placed it on his black Volkswagen Beetle. Pretty funny, right?
Best Buy apparently wasn’t moved by the spirit. They sent Strand a Cease-and-Desist letter ordering the logo be removed.
Paula Baldwin, senior manager for public relations at Best Buy, said they contacted Strand “because of the unfortunate similarities between their logo and ours.”
“This was a really difficult thing for us to do because we appreciate what Father Strand is trying to accomplish with his mission. But at the end of the day, it’s bad precedent to let some groups violate our trademark while pursuing others.”
On a positive note, Baldwin says Best Buy is going to work with Father Strand on a logo that doesn’t infringe on the Geek Squad trademark.
“We’re confident that together we’ll come up with a good solution for everyone.”
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
Stories like this one are popping up a little more frequently these days, and it just doesn’t end with trademarked logos. Churches are being sued for a number of infringements from use of poems in their bulletins to re-transmission of their church services with copyrighted music.
In an effort to help the Church stay above reproach and God-honoring, keep these in mind:
- Always contact the copyright or trademark owner to ask permission.
- It’s OK to be inspired by other works — Everyone is inspired. Just don’t copy. Be original.
- The church used to lead the pack in creativity, not cheap imitations. We still serve the same God who inspired magnificent works of art.