the designer of your logo still owns the copyright even if you have paid the bill in full

Copyright is the exclusive right to prevent the unauthorized use of a creative work.  Creative works, in this sense, include graphic designs (logos, icons etc.), sound and video recordings, photographs and artworks, to name just a few.  In most circumstances, the owner of the copyright in a creative work will be the creator.  One major exception to this is when the work has been created by an employee – in such cases, the copyright would normally belong to the employer.


So, consider the case where a company employs the services of a design company to create their brand identity.  The owner of the copyright in the brand graphics would be the design company, even after the invoice for the work is paid in full.  In order to transfer copyright ownership to the company it would be necessary to put a written assignment in place, which must be signed by both parties.


And why is this important?  Well, if a third party were to infringe the copyright in the creative work, only the owner of the copyright (or an exclusive licensee) could take legal action against the third party to stop the unauthorized use of the creative work.  As it is extremely important for companies to be able to prevent unauthorized use of their logo or brand identity, it is critical that the company has the legal right to take infringement action.  This is only possible where the copyright ownership has been legally transferred, by written assignment, to the company.


Please contact us if you require further information on this area of the law or assistance with putting assignments in place.

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If you feel your company could benefit from an IP Audit to identify any weak areas where your rights may be compromised, please let us know and our experienced attorneys will be happy to advise further.