Who actually owns your logo?

29th October 2015

In the rush that often accompanies the process of getting a logo designed to deadline, and any other designs for that matter, it seems unlikely that we would stop and think about the ownership of the finished product. But what would you do in the event that you sell your business, and the new owner wishes to use your logo and designs as part of the new set up? Do you have the rights to pass on these properties as part of the deal? Or is it actually owned by the independent contractor - typically a designer - that you assigned to their production? It is scenarios like these which make the question of ‘who actually owns your logo?’ one worth asking.

Copyright and trademark

Let’s dive straight in at the deep end, and consider the legal terms pertaining to your logo. Becoming embroiled in a legal battle might not be at the top of your worries list, but it is worth getting to grips with the particulars of what you might own, and what you might not. The copyright of a logo is typically the ownership of a logo itself – whoever holds the copyright, owns the design. The trademark is the logo and its characteristics as a representation of your company – i.e. should another company attempt to use it, or something inextricably similar, you could have good grounds to take legal action against them.

A common misconception

How things work out in reality can often be different to what we can see beneath the surface. In most arrangements concerning logos and designs, it is an unwritten rule that the company employing the designer would own the property once it had been completed, signed off and paid for. The designer might showcase a logo in their portfolio, but they are unlikely to lay any further claim to it. But that’s often the problem with things that aren’t put in writing – do they hold up when push comes to shove?

It’s all in the contract (or is it?)

Should you ever be forced to prove ownership of your logo and designs, you might want to refer back to the contract between you and the designer. A large share of companies would never think about requesting a detail in a contract which specifies them as the full owners of a logo, and this is where an issue could arise.  This detail would essentially state that as soon as a design is paid for, full ownership would be transferred to the company that has ordered it. Sounds simple, right? But you’d be amazed at how many organisations would neglect this element of a contract.

Seek the counsel of your designer

On the whole, it is unlikely that a designer would want to use your logo without permission, and as they are accustomed to working with creative properties, you might seek their advice on matters such as ensuring you own the copyright. Unlike in the United States, the United Kingdom does not have a formal registration process for copyright, and works on the basis that the individual or entity that produced a design or logo is the holder of the copyright. This is another reason that you should make sure your transferred ownership is represented in written form when working with a third party designer. The government also provides some advice here (https://www.gov.uk/copyright/overview).



About our blog

Welcome to Brand51 Insights where we share our thoughts and useful tips to help you improve your company branding...













This site uses cookies, please click here to find out how

Copyright 2021 Brand51, all rights reserved

Privacy | Terms | Cookies