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Can I use hazard symbols on my cards

5 replies [Last post]
Redcap's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008

Will I get in trouble for putting actual warning symbols on my card, for example the radioactive, flammible, and bio-chemicla hazard symbols?

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Of course not.But if you

Of course not. At least not where I live.
But if you still doubt, make your own variant.

thoughtfulmonkey's picture
Joined: 12/04/2014

Copyright is complicated. If your game got published then there would be a specific team that checked everything to make sure that it was OK legally.

The hazard symbols seem particularly complicated. The best I can guess is that the general symbol is in the public domain (no-one owns the copyright), but that specific drawings of it are copyrighted by certain organisations - which is iffy because they would need to show originality.

ISO claim ownership of some symbols - which they sell access to:

However, the Japan Sign Design Association also claim to have created some of them (

It isn't guaranteed to be safe, but if you use Wikimedia Commons and find a public domain version then it should be OK:

So, short answer is you should be fine; but if you're using someone else's drawing of them, then be careful which site you get it from.

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
I'm with X3M. I took some

I'm with X3M. I took some time to research the symbols and it seems as if the symbols are strictly regulated, which makes sense because they're supposed to be...well, warning signs.

In addition, I also agree that if you want to use the symbols, just make a variant. Change the color, add elements that make the symbol yours instead of theirs. That way you're safe regardless.

thoughtfulmonkey's picture
Joined: 12/04/2014
Do you have a reference on

Do you have a reference on their restricted use? I can't seem to find anything.

If there was I would expect it to cover anything that could be reasonably mistaken for the symbol - meaning slight variations would not be acceptable either. For example use of the UK Royal Arms:

"the Royal arms, or any of the principal armorial bearings of the Royal arms, or any insignia or device so nearly resembling the Royal arms or any such armorial bearing as to be likely to be mistaken for them or it"

It seems sensible to restrict use of the hazard symbols, but again it might only apply to the packaging and not to the cards themselves. Context may also play a part.

You can buy stock images with the symbols on, your can buy products such as phone cases with the symbols on - which any lay person could easily confuse with the real icons. So I still think it's just a copyright issue. But I'm not a lawyer.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Well, once again we got this

Well, once again we got this difference in countries.
Or in this case, continents.

The hazard symbols have a wide spectrum of usage.
In chemistry on the lab.
On the road with the big symbols.
International waters.
International airborne.

Any way, it a lot of cases. They may only be used if there is real danger. Because the behaviour of people will change according to rules. Depending on the type of danger. Now, this regulation of how to handle stuff, costs money.
If someone is driving on the road with a hazard symbol. The fine is somewhere around 1000 euro.
Yes, you heard that right, somewhere around 1000 euro.

I don't know where the symbols might be used? If it is on cards as a really tiny symbol. Well, I guess that is ok. But if it is a 10 x 10 mm card. Well, now we have a problem. Since this is the first indication of real danger.

If the symbol is an obvious fake. Then it is allowed.

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