Korean Beverage Co. Grabs Google’s Gambit

AttorneyScott Commentary:

Time to again take note, dear readers, of the idea-expression dichotomy. Ideas are as free as air under the Copyright Act, and it is only the expression (in a tangible form) of a particular idea that is protectable. Stated differently, you are free to express my idea in your own way, but may not exploit in any way my expression of that idea without my permission.

The distinction is easy to state, but difficult to apply, especially in the context of audio-visual works. Consider the below – a commercial created by Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo for Google in Japan and a startlingly similar video created by persons unknown to advertise a Korean beverage. The concept has almost certainly been taken by the Korean beverage company, but the expression-taking is more difficult to nail down, depending on the level of abstraction that you apply to delineate what is expression and what is the idea being expressed.

Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo:

Korean Beverage Co.:


Birds of a Feather



When it comes to art depicting the animal kingdom, certain limitations on copyright protection apply. The naturalistic appear of the animal, and the basic components of its corpus, are not protectable. If you draw an owl atop a tree, you will not be able to stop others from drawing owls or trees. Nor will you be able to stop others from drawing wings, beaks, talons, and all those other parts that we all know owls to possess. You can, however, protect your creative twist on these elements, and the fanciful way in which you depict the creature. The more fanciful your depiction, and less technically accurate, the stronger your copyright protection.

-AttorneyScott (scott@copyrigh[email protected])



The logo below on the left “Lion Bird” was designed by Nashifan Nizam (a designer from Sri Lanka). The logo on the right is from a shop in Oregon. Looks like a copy to me.


Fine Feathered Friends Compared:


Too Close to be Comfy or Independently Created Creatures?


When is too much actually too much? Below we have two very adorable creatures that bear a resemblance that is just past passing. But is it knock-offery? See for yourself:

-AttorneyScott ([email protected])




Hello Pants, an Australian designer, created in 2012 a creature design that it then offered for sale through Etsy in the form of prints. Recently, Australian retailer Cotton On Kids released a design featuring a monster that was eerily similar to the one created by Hello Pants. What do you think?

- Reader

Monstrous Comparison:

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