After 3 rejections, U.S. Copyright Office decides American Airlines’ logo is creative enough to copyright


A two-year-long dispute between American Airlines and the U.S. Copyright Office has been settled with the federal agency changing its mind about the carrier’s red, white and blue logo.

The U.S. Copyright Office has on three occasions since 2016 rejected requests by American Airlines to register for copyright protection the symbol that the carrier unveiled in 2013 when it overhauled its image.

The logo, depicting a stylized eagle in mid-flight with red and blue airplane wings, is emblazoned on most of the carrier’s fleet of more than 950 planes as well as on billboards and other advertisements.


The reason for the repeated rejections? The agency said the logo represented nothing more than a collection of geometric shapes, lacking the creativity the office demands for copyright protection.

American Airlines argued in letters and ultimately a lawsuit filed against Karyn Temple, the acting head of the agency, that the image was highly creative and had won the praises of many graphic designers.

Shortly after American Airlines withdrew its lawsuit against Temple, the copyright office issued a letter to the carrier, saying the review board for the office received additional evidence from the airline and had changed its mind.

“The board finds that the work contains minimal, but sufficient amount of original and creative authorship to sustain a claim to copyright,” the agency said in the letter, dated Dec. 7.

American Airlines spokesman Curtis Blessing said the carrier was happy with the decision.

“We are grateful to the copyright office for agreeing to give our application another look,” he said.


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