Welcome To Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals

Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals is the LARGEST online community & discussion forum for professional sign-makers and graphic designers.


  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Trademark vs Copyright?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by TXFB.INS, Jul 28, 2012.


    TXFB.INS Very Active Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    Lone Star State
    Several years ago the shop I work at purchased another company, and yesterday one of the customers from the previous company contacted us (the first time that this customer has contacted us) to get their full vector files so they can take the logo to another shop for services that we offer.

    The logo in question was trademarked by the customer prior to us purchasing the assets from the previous company.

    How does trademark vs copyright work?
    Who owns the design files?

    How do you handle people who wants you to send the files on your computer to a competitor?

  2. Pat Whatley

    Pat Whatley Major Contributor

    Sep 29, 2003
    Wetumpka, AL
    They own the rights to their logo....you own your digital files of that logo.

    In this case I'd charge them for burning the logo onto a disk. I would not give them the job files.

    You can stand your ground and refuse to work with them but there's really not a "win" in doing that. The other shop will still get the job, plus money for reproducing the logo, and the customer will think you're an ***. Lose, lose, lose. Sell them a disk with their logo on it and you at least get paid for the file you bought.
  3. amw

    amw Member

    Me too!
    Just because they own the trademark dosent mean you have to "give" them the files. You should be paid for them.

  4. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    Yup, what Pat said
  5. binki

    binki Very Active Member

    Jul 23, 2007
    The PRC
    copyright protect written (or similar like movies and songs) works while trademarks identify a brand.

    if you did artwork for a customer they still own the mark but not the stuff to print them unless contracted as such.

    we don't give up files used to produce the final product. the only thing we provide is a jpg proof for approval. after all, they had to supply something to get the work produced. we refer them back to whoever provided the original work to them.
  6. WCSign

    WCSign Member

    Mar 12, 2012
    Bay Area
    in my opinion...

    You guys didnt create the artwork.. it was essentially "given" to you with the business.

    If you NEVER want the chance to work with this customer and possibly get bad mouthed, then try to charge them for a disc etc.

    If you want to have the chance to do their work and at a minimum, build some good karma, give them the artwork on a disc with a business card and say "Thanks, you know we would love the chance to earn your business"

    even if they never come to you again, at the very least, they or the company who is doing the work for them will have a positive impression.. and that lasts almost as long as a negative one

    id rather pay $200 to get a logo recreated then pay $100 to get it burned on a disc by some jerk at a sign shop.. its the principal
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2012
  7. SignProPlus-Chip

    SignProPlus-Chip Active Member

    Feb 19, 2012
    Bluffton, SC
    In my opinion if a client paid for the design time, they own the work. It's a work for hire scenario, plain and simple.

    I have been a freelance artist working in the realm of graphic design and illustration for over 20 years now. When you design a logo for somebody they own the mark, and the rights to the file. As a designer myself, I call BS on the position that the designer would still "own the file" after the client pays for the job. Why would you care? Why would you want it? If the client is using it as their mark of trade, then you cannot use it for anything else anyway. Do the right thing and make sure you charge right for the job, and let ALL rights reside with the client, including the files.

    This is not to be confused with a MODEST service charge to say un-archive a file to burn to a disk or send to someone via e-mail should they lose their copy.

    Granted, many shops just don't charge what they should for a logo design in the first place. A lot of shops charge a minimum for design, they try to gouge on "releasing the files". IMO, this serves no purpose other than to **** off the client. It's a petty way for a shop to try and stiff a client that wants to take work elsewhere.

    When I did design work on a regular basis, a logo for a small local business didn't start a penny below $500. And a full business identity package (an area I focused in) could start between $1500-2500. You got a disc with your logo on it in EPS and PDF vector, JPG, TIF, BMP, GIF...all in high res for print plus a few low res versions for web use. If they lost the disc then we used to charge $10 to burn a new copy. This was simply a service charge for a replacing a lost disc for artwork they already own. Doing it this way also leaves you completely not responsible for the safekeeping of the artwork.
  8. lenwardus

    lenwardus Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Customer is pretty stupid.

    I need the file to make adjustments, to place an order..not
    to send to another vendor.

    Moron customer.
  9. WCSign

    WCSign Member

    Mar 12, 2012
    Bay Area

    Agreed, this was in a thread here awhile ago... if you charge for artwork... give the customer their artwork.. period
  10. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

    Aug 4, 2010
    montgomery, alabama
    When I sit down with client and design a logo and we finally come to an agreement and signs are produced, that logo is theirs! I dont need it I dont want it. I NEVER understood on letterheads when sign people kept saying "The sign company or the disigner owns the rights to a logo " that is dumb as hell to me. Who cares?

    If I were you I would ask them if you can assist them in a quote and it if not just email or burn her a disk and be done with it, when you buy a company your usually buying equipment anyway customer are no guarantee they will stay
  11. TXFB.INS

    TXFB.INS Very Active Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    Lone Star State
    Thanks for the input and the different opinions,

    Will let the boss know what the opinions are / show this thread.

    Personally since this is the first time we have been contacted by this customer since buying out the other business SEVERAL years what difference will it make if they use our services in the future as they are not keeping the doors open.

    @ Pat this is the approach I like the best, thanks for the insight.
    @ Visual yes will attempt to explain that we now offer the products/services they are wanting.
  12. Scott Reynolds

    Scott Reynolds Active Member

    Feb 5, 2005
    There seems to be a gray area here between designing a customer paid logo, and supplying converted files that you had to do in order to out put media.

    Now here's something that I might have missed, but in the original post the company wants the "full vector files". What does this mean exactly? Now if someone designs somebody a logo, their fully entitled to that logo into multiple bitmap, PDF and EPS formats. But I'm not giving them open layered formats such as Ps, Ai or Flexi files, only flattened files.

Share This Page