Who really owns my logo design?

A logo and branding is an essential part of any successful business these days and ensuring you actually own your logo is extremely important.

Most business owners naturally assume they own their logo design for the simple fact that they paid for it, however depending on the designer that created it, this is not always the case!

THE IP LAW OF LOGO DESIGN

By law, a logo design is treated in the same manner as any creative content, being that while you may have asked for a logo to be designed, it is actually owned by the design, who gives you licence to use it for your business.
It is similar to buying a car or a music CD…you have the rights to use it, however you don’t own the exclusive rights to the creative structure of it, or the concepts leading up to the final product. You simply have paid for the right to use it.

Unless you have asked for exclusive ownership of the logo, technically your graphic design agency owns the logo design. If a designer was employed by the agency, all his/her creative services are owned by the company they work for, which means the designer cannot legally showcase the designs in their portfolio or do other services for you directly without the Agency agreeing to this. Some design agencies even charge an annual licence fee to companies for their own logo, or charge them a cost each time they wish to use it!

THE IMPLICATIONS

There are a number of great concerns if you don’t own the IP rights to your own logo.
1. You can’t legally trademark it if it does not belong to you.
2. The agency can technically sell the logo, or elements of the logo, to another company without need for consent.
You may find yourself with a logo design very similar to someone else, possibly even a competitor, if you don’t have full ownership. This tends to happen a lot when you use the cheaper online logo services where they don’t care about the customer as much.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

There are a few ways to ensure you have full ownership of your logo design. The first is simply ask your potential design agency if you will own full rights to the logo design. Seem agencies may want to charge you more to hand over full exclusive rights, or a monthly licence. ensure you push them to the agreement that you own full rights to the final design. They have the rights to keep all the creative concepts created during the process still, which is standard.

Ensure your design agency doesn’t outsource overseas and that no elements have been used in previous client designs.  You want to ensure your logo is unique to avoid any legal issues from trademarked designs.

Smartfish are one design agency that hands over full ownership of the design to the owner upon completion, allowing you to trademark your logo ensuring you have full IP ownership, in case you wish to switch designers or change the logo after it has been designed.
We don’t charge extra for this, nor do we charge to archive your designs for you for at least three years, ensuring your logo designs are always available and ready for any medium.

So before signing up for a new logo design with any designer or agency, make sure you ask a few questions first, and ensure your brand actually is yours!

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