2.2.3 Works of art

Pursuant to Art. 2 para. 2 (c) CopA, works of art (drawings, paintings, sculptures, wells, works of architecture, etc.) can be protected by copyright when they are intellectual creations with an individual character and are perceptible to the senses as specified in Art. 2 para. 1 CopA. “All graphic, pictorial, sculptural products are considered to be works of art irrespective of the technology used to produce them” (Barrelet/Egloff, Urheberrecht, 3rd edition 2008, Art. 2 N 15) and irrespective of their purpose or worth. Thus, advertising posters, logos (computer), graphics, etc. can also enjoy copyright protection if they show sufficient individuality and a person has willingly created the work.


2.2.3-1 May the logo of a university be used on the Internet page of an in-house university project by university employees without any consent?

No, consent is required. The logo of a university is basically protected by copyright (and also by trademark law), so it cannot just be used without further ado. The university is the owner of rights for the logo and must therefore give its consent. However, many universities have their own regulations or guidelines which specify how the logos can be used, and by whom. For example, the University of Basel specifies that the university logo may only be used by units and employees of the University of Basel; however, people not connected to the university must obtain consent at the corresponding office of the university (”logos & templates” of the University of Basel). If employees of the University of Basel were involved in the above-mentioned case, they would be permitted to use this logo for their project page; the consent of the university is given as a result of the afore-mentioned regulation.

2.2.3-2 Is the cover of a book protected by copyright?

It depends whether the design of the cover can be seen as a copyright protected work; i.e. whether it is an intellectual creation with an individual character. You can usually affirm this in the case of illustrations, paintings, creative photos and designs (forms, colours, patterns) if they show the required individuality. Monochromatic and/or simply designed covers (i.e. textbooks or scientific literature) are more difficult to evaluate. Careful checks must be carried out here to determine whether the required individuality exists and if the cover nonetheless stands out from others in terms of its design and creativity. Even if the cover does not enjoy copyright protection from this time onwards, a logo or lettering of a publishing house depicted on it can potentially be protected.

In the case of book covers, it must also be kept in mind that illustrated symbols or logos or lettering can fall under trademark law.