I'm seeing, and hearing about, cases where some logo designers are not making the practicalities of logo design ownership straightforward for their clients. I have also heard of some designers refusing to actually grant, or transfer, copyright/ownership, over to the client at the conclusion of the project. I have even heard of one or two unscrupulous logo designers holding clients to ransom over the subject of how owns what and when!
A few people who have been looking around for logo designers have come back to me asking for advice on this very subject. I'm quite surprised that some logo designers are not behaving themselves in this regard! An important topic to address in another A Question for Graham post.
Both of these situations are not at all desirable, and if you are one of these designers who is not upfront about who will own sole ownership of the design you create for a client, then shame on you. Also shame on you if you are a logo designer who flatly refuses to grant their client sole ownership and provide transfer of copyright to a client who has paid up.
If a client pays you the money for the work you have done in creating them a unique and professional logo, then there is no reason at all why the client then should be wondering if this design will be used by another client later down the line, or simply if they will be granted ownership of the design. The clients needs and deserves to know that the logo design they are paying you to create for them, is theirs and theirs alone.
Logo Design Ownership
Make the subject of logo design ownership, and transfer of copyright, one of the more obvious topics in your proposal.
Provide a Transfer of Copyright/Ownership form so your clients, and prospective clients, can rest easy knowing that they will own the work they have contracted you to do for them.
Dealing with Ownership & Copyright of Logo Designs
Some more Tips & Advice: Someone asked me what the deal was with the whole aspect of the copyright of logo designs 'design ownership', in relation to logo design files when a project is completed.
This is quite an important part to get right, especially when you are working as a freelance graphic designer, and don't have the support and back-up of a company or agency.
I'm not the sort of person who likes to get into paragraphs of T&C's, they just look boring, no one reads them and they are just dull. I keep my initial proposal short and sweet.
You may find the following useful, you may not. It's just the portion of my proposal that outlines the specifics to logo and graphic design files ownership. This is not the exact version, as I tend to make fine tweaks on a per client basis, but you get the idea.
It's simple, short and sweet.
I am not saying this is all you need - some people prefer more detail, the 'watch your own back' variety - but it works for me. It at least gives you the freedom to do use your own designs for promotional applications and states quite clearly, payment = ownership.
Feel free to copy and paste, edit and hack.
DESIGN & FILE OWNERSHIP
All preparation materials, sketches, visuals, including electronic files used to create the project, remain the property of [insert your name here] until final approval has been made.
Upon final approval, and once any outstanding invoices have been paid, [insert your name here] will pass ownership of the final approved designs as specified in the proposal to [insert name of client here].
This does not include unused intermediate ideas and concepts, which will remain the property of ImJustCreative.
[insert your name here] reserves the right to show any artwork, ideas and sketches created for this project in a portfolio, in various online galleries and in logo process posts as examples of client work.
If you are unhappy for me to display your logo design in portfolios and in other online inspiration galleries, please discuss this with me before proceeding with the project.
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