Visual Search and Business Protection: The Legal Way

By | May 30, 2019
Visual Search

Visual Search is an artificial intelligence based service which allows you to search from a master database of images to find visually similar ones. Read the article titled Visual Search and Business Protection: The Legal Way here at Legal Bites. 

Artificial Intelligence has been in the business for a very long time. But it seems as if now, it is the need of the hour. Well, you can see it around yourself pretty easily. Be it Amazon’s product Alexa or iPhone’s Siri. What do you think they are powered with?

Artificial Intelligence has made our lives simplified and much more convenient. Businesses too are not far from benefiting themselves with this technological advancement. They have very well incorporated this gift into their operations which have given an edge to many business entities in the market and reshaped the way they operate.

As a business writer, I have researched several business structures and realised that entrepreneurs can benefit a great deal with Visual Search to protect their brand identity. But to my surprise, I found most of them to be critical of its importance and benefits. So I decided to put across my views so that businesses can protect their identity in a better way.

What is Visual Search?

Visual Search is an artificial intelligence based service which allows you to search from a master database of images to find visually similar ones.  The image result gets filtered based on the size, type and other relevant features.

So why do businesses need this?

Because most of them either have a registered logo or a website which contain images specific to their business and they might not be aware of its use by the third parties.

In such a situation, the use of Visual Search will let you know if the images/logo of your business is being used by someone else without your knowledge. Even if you have applied for your business logo, it will help you to see if there’s already a registered logo similar to yours.

For example – eBay, an American multinational company has incorporated visual search into its shopping application so that users can upload the images on their phone to search for similar products on the application. The customers can also upload images from different social media platforms to shop for similar objects.

Isn’t this worth trying?

Advantages of using Visual Search

Visual Search has changed the way of doing business. With the circulation of a lot of media on the Internet, it is important for businesses to monitor their use. This way you can improve the sales of your business.

Several e-commerce websites, corporate and fashion industry, other business entities can also make of this technological advancement to benefit their customers and make their experience better.

These pointers highlight why your business must not get away from Visual Search –

  • It reads the images in context with similar colour, size, shape, proportions or any text on it.
  • It reduces the time of typing manually or looking within the search results.
  • It promotes cross-selling for the customers in case your company is short of the product a person is looking for (specifically for e-commerce).
  • For other businesses, it helps to protect their Intellectual Property (trademarks/copyrights).

Visual Search and Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property is an important part of your business identity and provides exclusive rights to its owners. It is a collection of ideas which need to be protected by a respective legal procedure.

Intellectual Property generally contains Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents. To businesses, it gives them an edge in the market and the right to take legal action against the party(s) found guilty of infringing their rights.

Trademarks are associated with brand name/identity while Copyrights are meant for artistic works. Businesses often register their brand logos as trademarks or copyrights to make sure no one claims for the authorization over it.  

With the Visual Search, brands can search for similar trademarks or copyrights from all the registered or applied ones to check if their business logo is similar to any other brand or if the images are being used without their knowledge.

The image recognition technology makes it easy for entrepreneurs to ensure that their design is distinct and protected from infringement. Google Lens, for instance, searches for similar images from a vast database on the web. It also provides you with information based on the filters set by you like colour, size, type etc.

As of now, the lens can read a text, provide information on books, places, movies, identify buildings or major landmarks and scan barcodes. This makes it a pro at searching on different parameters.

What Happens When There is a Similar Logo/Image?

Logo or Copyright Infringement often leads to confusion among the customers and degrades the goodwill of any business/brand. It is essential to take necessary actions to prevent your brand identity being taken by anyone else.

If you find someone using the logo/image of your brand without your authorization, then you can sue or take legal action against the concerned party. The entrepreneur can take civil or legal action on the person infringing an already registered logo or copyrighted image under the concerned law or authority.

An Alternative (Solution)

Visual Search is a perfect combination of technology and mathematics. The results are scale, position, and background invariant. Companies can search from a master database of logos and images to identify visually similar logos.

To Search, you can either use Google Lens or Quick Company’s Image Search Tool. This unique image-based search tool allows you to –

  • Find similar logos.
  • Search distinctiveness of the shape.
  • Find Copied Design and visually similar logos.

I would say,

It is on you to decide how you wish to protect your brand and keep your creativity distinct for your customers. Make use of artificial intelligence and make your business stand out in the crowd.

#BONUS: Famous Cases of Logo Similarity

Below are a few of the famous logo infringement cases which were dragged to the court due to some of the other similar factors.

CASE 1:  9 Year Old Battle for Gucci and Guess

Gucci has been charging Guess from the year 2009 over different logo infringement cases which include –

  • The design mark of Gucci script.
  • The green-red-green stripe mark.
  • The repetitive GG pattern.
  • The style of G design mark.  

Gucci filed a lawsuit against Guess in different jurisdictions like France, Italy, China and Australia.

Legal Proceedings
The year 2012

New York Federal Court awarded $4.7 million to Gucci which was later reduced to $4.56 million.

The year 2013

Milan Court contradicted the judgment by rejecting all the claims of Gucci, thus cancelling its trademarks in Italy.

Gucci won the case for the second time in a hearing in the People’s Court in China.

The year 2018

Recently, the two brands decided to end this battle mutually since a lot of infringement cases were pending for final judgment in the courts of different countries.

On 18th April 2018, both the parties agreed, details of which are not yet disclosed. This will end all the pending decisions worldwide.

CASE 2:  Life Insurance Corporation won the argument over Vedhapuri Textiles.

In the year 2001, a Chennai based textile firm applied for the registration of a logo which was similar to the LIC logo. However; it got registered in the year 2013.  

Later, LIC appealed for rectification in the Intellectual Property Appellate Board. The Board reviewed the case and said that the mark was identical and is irrelevant for representing ‘lungies.’

Legal Proceedings

As a result, the textile company was asked to deposit 50,000 within two months in the Prime Minister Relief Fund.

CASE 3:  Dispute between PayTM and PayPal

PayPal opposed the logo registration of PayTm due to the similarity in name and logo. PayPal is a USA based company which already has 5 different logos registered in India and is using the same since 2007.

They have objected on the use of twin blue colour by PayTM stating it might confuse the audience. The legal proceedings are still pending, and the decision depends solely on the Judge. 


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