Did you know the artist or graphic designer who created your logo probably owns the copyrights to it?
Logo copyrights are secured automatically when the logo is created, or “fixed in a copy for the first time.” And the designer (or “author”) immediately becomes the owner of the design.
Unless your contract specifically states that copyrights are to be assigned to you, or unless you have a document drawn up that assigns copyrights at some later time, the copyrights to the logo you ordered up remain with the designer.
Many designers include verbiage in their contracts that assign copyrights, but just as many do not. I don’t normally include an assignment of copyrights for the logos I create. I like to know I have a little leverage if the client doesn’t pay their bill. I also like to have the right to use the logo on my website, or as part of my portfolio without special consent.
Of course, I do protect my clients’ logos as I would protect my own. And I happily assign rights at the request of any client, provided they have their lawyer draw up the necessary documents.
What exactly is a copyright?
The U.S. Copyright Office defines copyright as “a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.”
When it comes to design, copyrights aren’t just for logos. You’ll also want to secure the copyrights of any illustration or photography work created specifically for your company, as well the copyrights of your website’s design and any other printed materials.
For more information on copyrights, visit http://www.copyright.gov. Download Copyright Basics at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf. For information on trademark law, visit http://www.uspto.gov/.