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Logo rights

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Deaton Design, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. Deaton Design

    Deaton Design Very Active Member

    Feb 19, 2005
    I did some business cards for a guy here about ten years ago. Drew up a design, because he had no logo to speak of, had them printed, he was happy.
    Did a couple of vehicles for him also since then , but nothing big. He liked the logo I did for his cards, and had me use it on his trucks too. But, I could never get him to purchase the logo. I figured, well , at least this way he will have to get me to do his work since I own it. That was okay with me.
    Fast forward to today. Drove by his shop, up on the front was a new sign with the logo bigger than life on it. I didnt do it, dont really know if anybody local did do it, but its done. Im wondering now how I should approach this.
    Would you call him and raise a ruckus and ask for payment for the logo since he has now used it with someone else, would you call him and explain to him nicely that he has not purchased rights to his design, therefore he cant use it unless he does it through me, or would you just let it go?
    People here have this weird idea alot, that if I do a truck for them, or a sign, the design on that sign is theirs to use as they will. They call me and tell me to send their art to someone for tee shirts, etc. , and when I balk, they get mad. This guy is no great customer, hes was always cheap when it comes to signwork. THis is actually the first time IVe had this happen, so thats why Im asking.
  2. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    I always try to make it clear that if they want the file from me that they have to pay for it. If they just want me to do a design for say a shirt, but they didn't want the design afterward for their own use, I charge half of what I normally charge(may not be the best thing to do, but that's what works with my customers).

    If they come back later and want the file, I tell them they owe me the other half and then they'll get a file, however, I retain the right to use it for promotional use(if I do use it for that).
  3. SignManiac

    SignManiac Major Contributor

    Mar 25, 2006
    Mars Florida
    John, I would send him telling him you saw a new sign using your artwork and explain to him the implications of using artwork that he did not pay for. Remind him you offered to sell him the artwork to be used for his logo and he declined. So now he must pay you a fee if he wants to continue using it. Remind him of the penalties that can be awarded for copyright infringement.

    If he gets nasty, call an attorney.
  4. ddarlak

    ddarlak Trump Hater

    did he hire you to do this (create logo) or did you do it because he had nothing and you wanted to spruce it up.... if its the latter than you'd look like sour grapes going after it now....
  5. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    I know time doesn't have much to do with it, but after ten years.... can one really go after something they didn't get in the first place ??

    I guess what I mean is..... if you get an attorney on him [more costs]..... and this thing gets dragged out [more costs] and someone says to you, why didn't you enforce he pay you back then, if you felt he owed you ?? A judge might rule in favor of no claim to either party and just call it an even trade. So, why now go after him ?? You could very easily lose based on how a judge sees it. Then you'd be out all the extra costs of finding out for nothing.

    Don't get me wrong, I think the guy owes you, but ten years have passed and you haven't done anything.... so maybe a judge will view it the same way.
  6. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

    Sep 29, 2003
    Wetumpka, AL
    If you've been trying to sell it to him all this time I'd call him, find out who did the sign, then send the other shop and him an invoice for the artwork.
  7. Steve C.

    Steve C. Very Active Member

    May 22, 2003
    The design belongs to John. He can use it on the fellows signs, cards, but
    until the client buys the design he has no right to it unless John does it...

    I agree with SM.

    I had a case like this and I sent the guy a bill for design work. Never expecting
    to get paid. But I got a check in the mail a few days later, to my surprise.
  8. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

    Oct 19, 2009
    You are out of luck. You should have just included it in the first thing you
    did for him. I was on the other end, I made a sign for a customer using a design they had on a van. The original sign shop tryed to take them to small claims court for stealing the design, the judge dismissed the case saying they paid for the lettering so
    the logo was theirs to use as they wished.
  9. ddarlak

    ddarlak Trump Hater

    in theory and law, sure, in reality? the cost of going after this and the smell it would leave would be enough for me to pass....

    mistake was made in the first place, guy wants buinsess cards and has no logo, then he gets john's tree cutting service in Arial Bold....

    if he wants a logo, then he purchases one.

    this idea of saving files and owning artwork is more hassle than it's worth, sell the sign, sell the design and move on.....
  10. Deaton Design

    Deaton Design Very Active Member

    Feb 19, 2005
    I do alot of business cards that the customer never uses for a design other than the business card itself. Such is this case. The only other two times he used it was the trucks that I did. I dont think Im out of luck or that I did the wrong thing in not charging him up front. I did ask him if he wanted to purchase the design as a logo back then, and later on also. He didnt want to do that. I dont want to make a ruckus with the guy, nor do I want to go to court, but the logo is mine, and he should of at least asked me about it.
  11. weaselboogie

    weaselboogie Very Active Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    If he's well aware that its not his and decided to get something done without your permission , he knowingly used it. I'd call, and follow up with an invoice. he won't pay,I'm sure... you might need to go to court over this.

    I know its water under the bridge, but I try and work art cost into total cost of the project. if they don't want to pay for a logo, they don't get one.
  12. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    I would send him a "friendly" letter explaining the situation and again offer to sell him the logo.
  13. Poconopete

    Poconopete Very Active Member

    Feb 23, 2007
    Is it stated clearly on your signed work order that you own all rights to the art unless purchased by the client?
  14. Steve C.

    Steve C. Very Active Member

    May 22, 2003
    Since he was asked if he wanted to buy the design, and did not. He is aware
    that it does not belong to him. Give him a call, or send him a bill, or both.
    I would not bother with a lawyer, but I'd make him aware that if he uses the
    design for anything else, he could be facing litigation.
  15. sardocs

    sardocs Active Member

    Jun 17, 2005
    pender harbour bc
    Lately I've been using this "Form Letter" I made to send to all the people who ask me to send their art to all the different places they want/need it to go. I keep it in the drafts section in my email program. I bill 'em $26.50.

    Hi _______ - Here is a .jpg I've created from our resident files that I've used to make your signs from. Please store this on your computer in a place you can find when you need it. If you want me to send design files to different printers, embroiderers, newspapers etc, our policy is to charge a File Transfer Fee to cover our time to retrieve resident files and create email-able versions for all the different applications. We do offer a Logo design service whereby we will design a logo and put in on a flashdrive in colour and in b&w, in jpg,eps, ai, and pdf formats that clients can then send to all the different sources they use for their advertising. It includes a release of rights and title to the design and its use. We tell them to make plenty of copies and store it safely so they can avoid paying the FTF each time they want to put an ad in the Yellow Pages or whatever.
  16. signage

    signage Major Contributor

    Oct 5, 2005
    John on your invoice do you state anything about artwork ownership?

    If not I suggest you do so.

    If you had this on any of his invoices I would send him a bill. I may even ask him who made the sign and let them know they did not have any rights to recreate it, and they should know that if they are in business.
  17. Deaton Design

    Deaton Design Very Active Member

    Feb 19, 2005
    Yeah, my invoices and sketches all have this on them. I even point it out when Im working for someone. He knew that he didnt own it. Im definitely going to approach him, my main reason for putting up here I guess was to see how you guys would do that. Thanks for the advice and help. Always appreciated.
  18. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    If you have that all over everything and you can still lay your hands on it right now and it shows that it has his signature, then that would look pretty good in your favor.

    Now, as was already mentioned, a lot of time has passed though too, it might be a moot point in your jurisdiction or who hears the case, if it goes that far.
  19. Williams Signs

    Williams Signs Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Call a copyright attorney. I have had to do this. The attorney will ask you what you want to have happen. They can send a letter asking the owner to remove the sign and not use your artwork any further or you can seek monetary costs. You can ask the gentleman to pay you for the logo as well as pay you what you lost by not doing the sign, if he wishes to continue using it. The choice is yours. You can even receive money from the shop that did the sign. With both of us being in KY I wouldn't think laws would be different.
  20. Malkin

    Malkin Very Active Member

    Feb 11, 2009
    Augusta, ME
    In regards to a lot of time passing...

    Has the sign with the unauthorized logo been up for nearly ten years, or was it just recently put up? Seems like it might make a difference...

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