Yes—if the watermark or the logo is not part of the original work but is part of a published work. For example, a painting may include a picture of a person with a watermark or graphic of the painting’s name on the back. However, a person can not have a watermark without copyright.
Can a watermark count as trademark?
Yes. A person may trademark the watermark of a photographic object if the trademark is registered under the Lanham Act in the United States and contains sufficient elements of originality. The elements of originality are (1) the original character, shape, appearance, or characteristic of the object; (2) the distinctive qualities; (3) the distinctive source of the object’s origin; or (4) the name of the trademarked person.
Can a person have a copyright even on their own name?
Not only can a person have a work’s watermark without a court ruling, they can also have the work’s copyright. This means using such watermark, which looks like a person’s name, could constitute copyright infringement.
What about the work?
The work itself is protected under copyright law; copyright protects the expression of original ideas, thoughts, and facts. However, if the work is created before January 1, 1978, then it is not protected by copyright. For example, a work created on October 12, 1973 would not be protected by copyright because the work consists of an idea that had formed in the mind about the year 1975. Also, a work that is created before October 1, 1977 would not be protected because the work is simply existing in the mind of the writer or artist.
Can I create an entirely new work—just with a different watermark?
Yes, but you need to obtain a copyright registration number. For example, the work created with watermark on a magazine covers would be protected by copyright, but the work created without watermark would not be copyright protected.
Can you register the watermark of other things?
As long as the person who made and registered the watermark has filed a copyright registration number with copyright officials, it is protected. For example, if you create a painting with watermark on a picture of a person with a different sign that you also have on your back, then that work would be protected, assuming that the watermark on the canvas is not removed or altered.
If I put watermark on my photo or picture,
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