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I don't know if I can use a symbol that is a bit similar to a trademarked symbol. For example, can I use the Alchemist symbol for philosopher's stone. It is very similar to the symbol of deathly hallows, trademark by Warner Bros. Who decides how much similarity is allowed? Also, some trademarked symbols are just a combination of some basic geometric shapes, that can be just doodled randomly without knowing. Can anything similar can be used? I am not saying copying the symbol, I just can't check the whole list to check if my symbol matches to another. Or is there any site that allows to check that by uploading the symbol?

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    There's no firm rule. It's up to Warner Bros to decide that you're infringing on their trademark. If they pursue a claim, then it would be up to the court to decide.
    – Ron Trunk
    Jun 3 at 13:51
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    It also depends on what you mean by using the symbol. If you're selling a product or service using the mark, especially if if that product is similar to "Harry Potter" stuff, WB would probably take notice.
    – Ron Trunk
    Jun 3 at 13:59
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Under law the question is whether the symbol is likely to be confused with the protected mark by a reasonable person such as a potential purchaser. If the is a dispute, the decision would ultimately be made by a court. Whether the contested symbol is being used on a product of a similar nature will influence the decision. That the symbol for the philosopher's stone is ancient will make it less likely to be held to be a trademark infringement, but it will depend on how it is being used.

Unlike copyright law, US trademark law does not care whether a mark is complex or original, it cares only that it is distinctive and has acquired a secondary meaning, i.e. that people understand it as referring to a particular product or maker of products (or services). If it has, and is being ":used in trade" then it is protect able as a trademark, even if it is just "a combination of some basic geometric shapes". Note that many trademarks would not be copyrightable, the standards are quite different.

Some logos are protected both under copyright law and under trademark law.

Note also that trademarks are normally specific to a type of product or business. One could set up "Apple Restaurant" without infringing on the mark of the computer company. Trademarks are also specific to a particular country -- what is protected as a trademark in the US will not be protected in Canada, or the UK, or the EU unless it separately qualifies for protection under the laws of each individual country (for the EU, a union-wide trademark is possible). Moreover, a trademark may be limited to a particular region of a country if that is the market in which it is being used, depending on the law of the particular country.

The above answer focuses on the law of the United States. The laws in other countries are similar in outline, but significantly different in detail. For one thing, in the US a trademark may be established by simply using it, although additional rights are gained by registration. However, in many countries, there is no protection without registration.

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  • A widely misunderstood aspect that deserves emphasis is that even a full registered trademark is not a prohibition on using or reproducing that mark. It is a prohibition on using the mark in a manner that conveys an endorsement or affiliation with the owner of the mark that is not in fact the case. For example, the Dell Computer Company is free to put the Apple Computer logo on its packaging in connection with a conspicuous statement of non-affiliation such as "This computer is better and cheaper than the ones sold by our competitor, Apple Computer <followed by Apple's registered mark>."
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 3 at 22:33
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    Thar kind of nominative, competitive use is clearly ok for the name of the competing product. But I think there are some cases that asy in the US is is not ok for the Logo when the name would suffice to identify the competitor. Jun 3 at 23:27

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