Last updated on February 7th, 2019
The debate whether designer or the client or business owner has copyright over a logo design has not settled yet. Often, the designers refuse to part with their right over the design. In that case, the matter goes to a court of law.
Many of you may think that the answer to the dispute is obvious – that the client should own the design after making the payment to the designer. Well, the answer is actually not that simple always. Many designers create trouble in transferring the ownership of their work for varied reasons. Tackling such issues sometimes becomes harder for the clients. So, what is the solution?
By ownership, we mean the client must get legal ownership over a design and not just a permission for using the design. So, even if a client has paid to a designer for creating a logo design, still the client can only put the logo to use but cannot own the design legally. In such a scenario, despite the designer getting payment for his logo work, the client has no legal right over the logo design.
01. Importance Of Logo Design Ownership
Clients have their own reasons to have logo ownership. Most of the clients need the ownership for a frequent use of the logo. Since a logo design is an essential part of brand marketing, a client needs all the legal rights of ownership.
A logo is used frequently in a marketing campaign. Therefore, a business owner would like to use a logo without copyright violation. Also, a logo has mostly the same color scheme as a business owner’s website design has. So, a copyright on a logo becomes essential to take for a company.
Another point of concern for business owners is the importance of their logo with their brand identity. If the rights are with a designer, then a client cannot register the design under Intellectual Property Rights. Unless these rights are ensured, the client fears that the design that represents the brand identity of business can be infringed upon.
Clients do not want to be entangled in repeated confrontations with the designers over logo design issues. This will create more problems for them despite paying the designer’s fees.
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02. Why Designers Don’t Transfer Ownership
The designers know the importance of logo design for the clients and hence they want to deny full legal rights to them.
Many designers have royalty in mind when refusing to part with logo ownership. They want to earn money as royalty every time a logo is used in varied marketing platforms. For example, if a logo is used on a brochure design, the designer would like to get a royalty. This provides them a regular source of income.
Some designers are possessive of their designs. A design concept is with a designer for a long time during the creation process. If the design turns out to be excellent, the designer wishes to keep it. While there is nothing wrong in being little possessive, but too much of it is certainly undesirable. It becomes a hindrance in transferring of ownership rights.
03. So, Who Should Own A Logo Design?
I firmly believe that the client should hold the ownership rights. This is because the client hired the designer and paid the fees for the work. Once the work is done and the designer has been paid the fees, the work belongs to the employer.
The problem of logo design ownership arises when the designers do not clearly specify the terms and conditions related to the ownership. Both the client and the designer must lay down and mutually agree to all the ownership issues right at the beginning of the logo design project.
The dispute arises mostly because there is no prior agreement between the client and the graphic designer. Remember that ownership of the design generally depends on what terms are set out in your contract. For example, if the contract was on the basis of a work for hire, in that case the logo ownership will be with the client.
The problem surfaces also because most of the freelance graphic designers are not employed on work to hire basis. Hence, in most of such cases, standard copyright rules apply. According to such rules, the copyright ownership of a piece of work is assigned to the person who created the work. So, in the absence of a hire for work contract, the ownership of design automatically belongs to the designer.
Therefore, in many such instances, the client gets a license to use and the designer retains ownership of the design. Such cases are not restricted to logo design ownership only.
In fact, all the graphic design items come under the purview of the dispute. For example, in a packaging design project, the client would own a right over printed version of the design. But the designer owns full rights on working files including preliminary sketches and Adobe InDesign Files.
The ownership of these files does not matter much to the clients. They mostly do not need the files because there is rarely a need to edit the design.
So, if there is no work to hire contract between the designer and the client, the ownership will be with the client while ownership of the files will be with the designer. This means that if you want to get complete ownership of a logo design, you must have work to hire contract with your designer. Everything should be made clear in the contract regarding the ownership.
04. A Surefire Way To Get Full Copyrights
Now, when it comes to crowdsourcing your logo design work to Designhill, you will get the ownership and full copyrights over the design. This platform gives quick access to all full copyrights to the clients over a logo design that they get from the designers.
On this platform, business owners, known as clients, launch logo design contests. Once a client selects a winning design entry submitted by a designer, the client gives his/her approval for releasing the prize money to the winner of the design contest.
But Designhill releases the prizes money to the designer only after transferring the full rights over the design to the client. In fact, the very fact that a designer is working on a design on this platform implies that the client will get complete legal rights of ownership including on the design files.
The dispute between the clients and the graphic designers over copyrights on a logo design arise more often. The clients want full rights over a logo as it has to be used frequently everywhere on products or services and marketing campaigns. The designer wants to have royalty as a regular income and refuses to part with the ownership. A solution could be that there should be a hire to work contract between the two parties. All the terms regarding the copyrights must be clearly spelled out in the contract.