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Jay Z succeeds in defending Copyright claim over Roc-A-Fella logo

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This week Jay Z successfully defended a claim by Dwayne Walker, a New York based designer, who claimed that he had created the Roc-A-Fella logo for Jay Z’s record label in 1995. Mr Walker alleged that there was a contract between him and Damon Dash the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella which entitled him to royalties in the region of $7m. He claimed use of the logo was a breach of contract and copyright infringement and wanted payment of the royalties he said were due. Jay Z denied the claims and stated that the logo was designed by an in house art director and not Mr Walker.   

Unfortunately, Mr Walker was unable to produce the contract to support his case, claiming that he had lost track of it in 1998. In the absence of any other supporting evidence that he designed the logo, other than his own personal testimony, his case was dismissed. 

In the UK, copyright exists automatically in a piece of work provided that the work is original, recorded and the result of some effort by the author. There are no specific formalities that need to be observed for a work to receive copyright protection, unlike other intellectual property rights. There isn’t a register of copyright works in the UK, unlike trademarks. 

However, there are steps that you can take to protect your copyrighted work or to protect yourself from any claims of infringement from a third party. Some people use the copyright symbol © with their name and the year of creation. Although marking your work does not give it any more protection than if you don’t use the mark but it may act as a warning to others that the work is protected and deter copying. You should keep good records and supporting evidence of how the copyrighted work came into existence, how it progressed to the finished work with dates where possible. For example early drafts or outline sketches can all be good evidence to demonstrate that the works are original and you are the original author of the work. 

If you would like to speak with one of our intellectual property specialist please contact David Wisbey on 01245 453817

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