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Serious question, if the Railway company was a government institution when the design was released, is the design not in the public domain?

Nowadays, it seems they're quasi-governmental, but back then I think they were strictly a national org. It'd be like DARPA trying to get royalties on the internet or something similar. I could be wrong in this line of thinking, of course.




In the USA maybe, but in many (most?) countries government organizations can hold copyrights and trademarks.

For the record, the Department Of Defense frequently applied for new patents, many which I presume come from DARPA research.


Government entities can and often do own intellectual property - patents, trademarks, copyrights - and regularly defend them.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Love_New_York for one famous example.


While this is true, there are bounds of I (heart) something_somethings and AFAIK, NYC does not go after them for infringement (I feel as though Apple's rendition is sufficiently different that it's not the same as the orig (hand lengths, motion, etc). Moreover, in the NYC case, I (heart) NY is trademarked and part of an advert campaign, so I can understand their defence of their TM. Did The Swiss RR get a design patent for the timepiece?

So, while you are right about the ability of a gov to register and/or patent things, I'm surprised they'd be willing to follow through. It's not as though Apple is trying to make money off of them by selling a knock off product or piggybacking on an advert campaign.

Good point none the less and thanks for the explanation.


Yes, actually NYC (well, NY State Dept. of Economic Development) constantly goes after people for infringement of the "I heart NY" logo. They definitely do follow through.

It's not about money being made, it's a legal necessity that a trademark owner needs to actively defend the mark in order to keep it.


Right, of course. I meant you could have a "J' (heart) Bruxelles" in the same design and not get sued, so long as Brussells hadn't had that TMed. At least I'd hope not.


You could probably expect to get a C&D letter from NY State for designing a logo like that. At least, plenty of other people have. Google for "i heart nyc trademark infringement" and read the top few links. Apparently they have sent out over 3000 such requests since registering the mark.

Sometimes the claims of infringement are upheld, sometimes not. The more important thing, legally, is that NY needs to show that they are actively defending the mark to prevent trademark dilution.


In order to keep it to what purpose? To make money.


if the Railway company was a government institution when the design was released, is the design not in the public domain?

In the USA, the government cannot have copyright and everything is in the public domain. This is not the case in many other countries.


> In the USA, the government cannot have copyright and everything is in the public domain. This is not the case in many other countries.

This is an overly broad statement. Federal government agencies in the USA can hold copyright in certain situations, and the rule doesn't apply to state or local government.

This is a really interesting page that lists ways that the government can own copyrighted works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_status_of_work_by_the...

(Also the design that Apple lifted is trademarked, not copyright, but that's a different issue).


If this was in the US, you could well be correct. In Switzerland, the law is quite likely to be different. It's not uncommon for Governments to have specific copyright rules in non-US jurisdictions (See e.g. Crown copyright[1] used in the UK, Canada, etc.)

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_copyright


Tell that to the guys at Australia's CSIRO who just won some global WiFi patent actions.


The railway company is only licensing the design from another company though.




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