Modern Software Experience


Design Wars vs. Millennia

package this

Last year, the AncestryInsider reported that had decided to sue Millennia for copyright infringement. That was not about their respective Family Tree Maker and Legacy Family Tree products, but about the packaging for those products. claimed that Millennia’s package design for Legacy Family Tree was too similar to the packaging for’s Family Tree Maker.


There was a huge huh-factor. Many Legacy users have never seen the packaging, because they opt to download the product, and people who had seen both packages were unlikely to be confused one way or another.
The Genealogue was quick with a brilliant blog post parodying the suit.

deliberately similar

The real thigh-slapper was the suggestion that Millennia was deliberately opting for a similar design, to cash in on Family Tree Maker’s good name. Any suggestion that started a nuisance lawsuit because it was jealous of Millennia being overwhelmed with orders for its Legacy Family Tree version 7 is of course complete and utter nonsense.


Part of complaints concerned the style, the fonts and colours for the words Family Tree. I created a picture that shows various designs alongside each other, and noted that’s own design seemed inspired by that for FamilyGathering.

I poked some more fun at’s suggestion that Millennia was oh-so wrong to use a sans-serif font for Family Tree, not only by remarking that it is common typographical practice to use sans-serif for large text, but additionally by contrasting their design for Family Tree Maker with the design for Family Tree Magazine.


All that was funny already, but the soap opera seemed really complete, when introduced its logo. Dean Richardson of GenLighten noticed that the’s logo is remarkable similar to GenLighten’s logo.


I do wonder what happened to this lawsuit. Neither nor Millennia has issued any statement about it. Anyway, I just recalled all this because the logo fun continues.

MyFamily vs. GenSeek

When FamilyLink first introduced the GenSeek site, it displayed a logo in the upper right corner. I was more interested in the site than the logo, so I never gave it much thought.
Today, playing with some Twitter tools that show many avatars at once, I was struck by the similarity of the and logo. Whether that was because or despite the fact that GenSeek shows uses just a part of its logo as its Twitter avatar, I do not know.

2009-03-18 12:13 TamuraJones The GenSeek & MyFamily logos are not dissimilar. Both 2-colour, green / brown, sans-serif, playful leaf, and grey ".com".

What the tweet?

I’ve collected some logos together to show what that tweet was about. RootsWeb GenSeek Logo

This image does not just show the already mentioned MyFamily and GenSeek logos, but the and RootsWeb logos as well. The, and share obvious similarities.

All three designs use the same three colours. The logo is the odd one out for using a serif typeface and a single-word name. The MyFamily and RootsWeb logo both use sans-serif and use two colours to highlight that the name consist of two words. All the logos add a stylised leaf as an accent. All three logo have a grey .com at the end.

These similarities are a visual identity, visual cues that these various brands are part of the same company. The GenSeek logo fits in very well. Its use sans-serif type, uses the two-tone green and brown to distinguish the two parts of the name from each other, it has a playful stylised leaf as an accent, and the visual identity is completed by the grey .com at the end.

There is just one problem: GenSeek is a branch of a different tree., and all belong to The Generations Network, while GenSeek belongs to FamilyLink.

It is not hard to muster some arguments in FamilyLink’s defence. Use of sans-serif is pretty normal, and in fact a difference instead of similarity with the logo. The MyFamily and RootsWeb logo use lower-case letters only, despite the common IniCaps spelling of those name, while the GenSeek logo uses IniCaps.
Use of two-tone names is far from unique, and use of trees or leaves in logos is something many genealogical companies do. The use of an magnifying glass in the GenSeek logo, although so obvious and worn-out as a metaphor for search that it can hardly be called creative, is a remarkably fresh and unique take on genealogical logo design compared to the overabundance of logos with trees, leaves and branches in them.
The GenSeek logo uses a fresh bright spring green instead of the almost pukey yellowish autumn green that the logos use, but there is still the identical grey .com at the end, which really makes the GenSeek logo fit in so well. You'd think these are all branches of the same tree.


2009-08-11 New GenSeek logo

Old and New GenSeek logo

FamilyLink has developed a GenSeek application for FaceBook. See GenSeek for FaceBook, which reveals the GenSeek on FaceBook application including GenStream and the new GenSeek logo.

I guess the issues discussed above were serious enough to redo the logo. The new logo features the same stylised figure and rounded letters as other FamilyLink logos.

2009-08-12 Evanmade Graphic Design

Just came across Evan McDonald’s web site, which has a page about the GenSeek logo design he did in February of 2009.

2009-08-20 new GenSeek logo

GenSeek Logo

FamilyLink Vice President of Marketing Jim Ericson answered some questions about the logo change and sent me the official new logo for the GenSeek site, which has slightly different colours and shapes than the logo used for the FaceBook app.

The new design shows multiple stylised figures connected by a shadow, in which you can recognise a minimal family tree. That suggests genealogy much more than an hourglass does. The stylised figure is one FamilyLink is using for multiple logos, to provide an easily recognisable corporate identity, and communicates that GenSeek is a FamilyLink service.

2011-04-23 Evanmade GenSeek

Evan Made has deleted the GenSeek logo project from his site. The broken link has been removed.