In terms of copyrights, one of the most common mistakes intellectual property attorneys see clients make is failing to properly transfer ownership of a work.
Whether it’s a logo, a piece of art, or anything else, whoever creates the work is automatically considered the owner of the copyright unless there’s an agreement in place that says otherwise.
We see the ownership issue frequently come up with graphic designs. A freelancer or artist will create a logo for a client, and if there wasn’t a proper agreement, the client does not own the copyright on the logo, the artist does. If the client wants to make any changes to the work, they have to go back and negotiate with that artist again because they do not own the work.
Whereas, if it had been agreed upon initially that any works created would be owned by the client and copyright transferred upon creation, then the client could make whatever changes they want without having to go back and get permission first.
What’s The Solution?
If you work with third parties to create your design work, be sure to use a work-for-hire agreement or independent contractor agreement which includes a provision stating that all copyrights are transferred upon their creation. This will ensure that you own the intellectual property that is created on your behalf.
It’s important to note that some people think that they can use a non-disclosure agreement as a substitute for an independent contractor agreement or a work-for-hire agreement, but it cannot be done. A non-disclosure agreement has a specific use. It is usually to keep whatever you’re disclosing to a third party a secret; It does not take the place of a work-for-hire or an independent contractor agreement and there should be proper documentation for that. Remember, just because you pay the artist does not mean that you own the copyright, you must have an agreement transferring ownership in the copyright.
Still have questions?
If you want to make sure the work created on your behalf truly belongs to you, contact us to have the proper agreements drafted for your business. You can schedule a discovery session with our intellectual property attorneys by calling 888-666-0062 or by clicking here to use our online scheduling tool.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.