A logo is an essential part of your brand identity and marketing, so it makes sense that you would engage a professional to design it. Let’s say that you pay a graphic designer for their services and they send you your new logo in all the appropriate file formats which you’ve now started using on your website, on social media, on your stationery etc.
When you consider this common scenario, do you actually own your logo?
It may seem like a fairly straightforward question with a simple answer, but if your designer doesn’t explicitly assign ownership of the copyright in your logo to you, then technically they still own the design. By sending you the finished logo they have essentially given you permission to use it, as is, but not necessarily in the way you wish.
Why does it matter?
A logo would commonly be considered as an artistic work and therefore falls under copyright law. If the ownership of the copyright in your logo remains with the designer, then you may not be able to obtain valid registered IP rights such as trade marks. (You can read more about the benefits of registering a trade mark here). If you do register a trade mark and wish to take action against an infringer, you may be required as part of the dispute to substantiate trade mark ownership – if you cannot, your registration may be deemed invalid leaving you unable to pursue an infringement claim.
Valid trade mark registration is also important if and when the time comes when you want to sell your business. The inherent value of the business relies on its ongoing success; obviously you want to convince the buyer that it is a good investment. The success relies in part on your customers and potential customers’ ability to recognise your branding. So if you are selling the business, your associated trade mark will play an important part in sale negotiations as it is a valuable, tangible asset.
What to do
While some designers are not aware that they have to give clients complete ownership, clients or brand owners typically don’t want to go chasing designers for ownership (nor should they have to). If you are not sure whether you own your current logo, check to see if the graphic designer or agency gave you a design transfer or copyright assignment document.
If you have a product or service that you are looking to launch soon and you need a new logo, we make the process of brand creation and brand protection easy.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.