In my protect, I want to use a recognized vehicle indicator light as a logo. What is the legality of using the icon, namely the check engine light, as a logo? I do not know if some form of copyright protects this icon.

I reside in the US if that makes a difference.


The logo is an artistic work and someone owns the copyright. It was created within the last 70 years so copyright cannot have expired.

You are allowed to use it in accordance with the terms of any licence that the owner has granted or if your use meets fair use criteria.

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  • This depends. If the shape of the check-engine light is defined by a law, or is defined by a private standard that has since been incorporated into law, it can't be copyrighted because laws can't be. – Mark Aug 7 '16 at 23:49
  • @Mark - who says laws can't be copyright? The US government doesn't assert copyright on its laws but the Australian government does. – Dale M Aug 8 '16 at 0:02
  • The position of the US government is broader than that: the US government does not recognize anybody's copyright on anybody's laws. If you're in the United States and doing business in the United States, you can freely ignore any attempt to assert copyright on laws. – Mark Aug 8 '16 at 0:59
  • @Mark and it you're not, you can't. – Dale M Aug 8 '16 at 1:05

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