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Who Actually Owns the Logo Design – The Client or Designer? -

Who Actually Owns the Logo Design

Featured Image: iStock/Dane_Mark

This debate has been raging since eons. Am I the rightful owner of a creative work because I have created it or can my client claim ownership because they have paid for the work?

And from the point of view of the client, if I commission a logo, who owns the copyright? If I’m paying for it and not getting full control of the use of the logo, is this not dishonest?

Create A Logo For Your Legal Firm!

The rise of AI visuals has thrown the entire debate in a tailspin. If the technicality of ownership can be a complex issue to discuss between two humans, imagine what will happen if you throw in bots and algorithms that can create unique designs.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of who owns the logo, the designer, or the client, the copyright law has laid down specific, though complex rules about the ownership.

Before we try to understand the law, let us first see what it actually says.

Who owns the logo?

In the USA, the original creator of the artwork automatically owns its copyright — unless the design is created by a full-time employee during their course of employment, in which case the employer has true logo ownership. But if you are a freelancer, you own the logo rights ownership which you’ll need to transfer to your clients upon payment so they can have the full freedom to use the logo.

Let’s try to understand the discussion of who owns the rights to a logo through an example of car ownership.

Imagine you buy a car from someone and the owner of the car refuses to transfer it in your name. Would you be comfortable with that? Of course not! You will want complete ownership of the vehicle since you are the one paying for it.

Now picture the same scenario between you (the designer) and your client. The client pays you hundreds of dollars to create a unique and professional logo that they can use to brand their business. Should he be concerned about the rightful ownership of the logo?

Of course not!

No wonder, the love-hate relationship between designers and clients has been running rampant since time immemorial!

My take on the matter agrees with the client side. Since design is crucial for business and brand, I believe that the logo design should be the property of the client once it has been passed on to them by the designer and the monetary transactions have been settled.

Why is Logo Ownership Important?

Before we move any further on who gets the ownership of a logo, let us first discuss its importance. Whether your design clients are finicky or intellectual, in the end, ownership bears the following significance:

  • Freedom To Use It:

First and foremost, clients should have the freedom to use the logo they paid for. Of course, logo design is crucial for a brand’s marketing. That is why a client needs to have complete ownership of the logo so that they can use it whenever and wherever they desire without fear of copyright violation.

  • Get Copyrights:

With proper ownership, the client can actually get their brand identity trademarked from their local registry dealing in Intellectual Property Rights. That way, the client will make sure that their business identity will not be infringed upon by anyone else.

  • Avoid Confrontation:

If the matter of logo ownership is not clear from the start, there are chances that it’ll lead the client and designer towards a messy confrontation. This is something that no client would want, especially after paying for something.

Why designers don’t give Ownership?

Recently, I also came across an interesting article on logo design ownership issue by Graham Smith where he rightly points out that:

“logo designers are not making the practicalities of logo design ownership straightforward for their clients.”

This brings us to the all-important question…why do designers avoid giving ownership to clients? Here are a few reasons I could think of why designers would do such a thing.

  • Too Possessive:

As a designer, I can understand how possessive we can get about our creations. Every logo we design and every concept we conceive is too valuable to us. Mastering the art of crafting a memorable logo doesn’t come easy and our work becomes all too precious for us. Maybe some designers become overly possessive about their designs and opt not to part ways with their designs by not transferring ownership to the client.

  • Reuse it in the Future:

Some designers like to take inspiration from their own past projects. Maybe this is why a few designers, who don’t know the thin line between theft and inspiration, circumvent the topic of logo ownership with clients so that they might be able to reuse it in the future.

However, there is simply no justification for a designer to reuse previous logo designs in future projects. One can only go as far as using the client’s logo for display purposes in their portfolio.

  • Hold for Ransom:

Believe it or not, some designers (mostly amateur) would evade telling the client about logo ownership in order to keep the ‘upper hand’.

As unethical as it sounds, it so happens that a few unscrupulous designers would not clarify the ownership details in the proposal so that they can demand royalty when it is being used on various marketing platforms, like landing pages, social media, email marketing and sales outreach. What a shame!

Who Owns the Logo – Designer or Client?

Since design is crucial for business and brand, I believe that the logo design should be the property of the client once it has been passed on to him by the designer and the monetary transactions have been settled.

Moreover, regardless of who actually owns the logo design, it is the sole and moral responsibility of a designer to make the subject of ownership/copyright extremely clear to the client. Whatever terms and conditions you want be it just the license to use the logo or complete ownership, make sure to be crystal clear with your clients right from the word go. There is no point in dilly dallying on the subject and concealing the facts. Not only will it create confusion, it will also leave you looking like an unprofessional and dishonest person.

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Illustration: iStock

We have requested some top-notch designers, such as Juri Zaech, Jacob Cass, David Airey, and Nicole Martinez, for their opinion on the matter and we will be updating the post once we hear back from them. Meanwhile, do comment and let us know what your take on the subject is. Do you believe that clients should get sole ownership of the logo design? Or should designers keep the copyrights to themselves? Comments please!


We are hearing back from logo designers and small business owners. Below are some of the replies.

Nicole Martinez reply

“The logo process is a bit like giving someone a haircut… on a wig that they’ll wear for a really long time. That’s a really weird metaphor. But basically – a client pays you to create something for them, that defines their identity. Once they’ve accepted a haircut and left the salon wearing it on their head. it’s theirs”.

Based in Boston, Nicole Martinez is an Art Director specializing in illustrations and interactive design.

Ian Paget reply
“I don’t think theirs any debate. Client pays for the logo, so they should own it. I think it’s fair that the designer use it in their portfolio, but that should be it. I think it’s only amateur designers who refuse to pass over ownership, and people looking for a logo designer should see this as a warning sign.”

Ian Paget is the Creative Director for Advansys Ltd. He also owns a design service, Logo Geek, based in Reading, Berkshire. Ian responded to our post on Google+.

Juri Zaech Reply

“In my entire career I did not encounter a designer who would not pass the ownership on to the client, until today. A quick check of the terms and conditions of DesignMantic shows that they themselves do not give any of the ownership, despite this opinionated blog post. Specifically they formulate it like this:

“Customer understands that Company retains the rights to all designs and does not transfer any rights of the design to Customer. With respect to the Company Symbols, all ownership and intellectual property rights shall remain exclusively with Company. Company’s ownership and intellectual property rights in Company Symbols are perpetual, and continue even after Customer purchases a design.” (Terms and Conditions) In their request to me giving my opinion to the subject, they write about morals and responsibility. But to me all that sounds like hypocrisy. I would stay away from designers who do not grant the rights to the paying customer. And according to their blog post DesignMantic should agree. But then their terms and conditions say something different. What to believe? Better stay away.”

Juri Zaech, a Swiss Art Designer, specializes in typographic projects. He responded to our request for feedback via email.


Nuno A. reply

The car ownership is a good metaphor but picture this… who is the real parent: mother or father?
Both would be the answer since without any of them the logo would not exist.
As in real parental duties, both have to do their best to preserve the child and make sure he or she will grow healthy and beautiful.

Nuno Alves is the Design Director at Usagi Design. He specializes in solving problems in the consumer market field. He offered his valuable opinion on LinkedIn.

Nuno A. reply

I feel it depends on the contract/agreement/price you and the client set up. The price is determined by how much revenue the logo/brand will bring the client.

Based in Virginia, Vivian Marcoccio is the Graphic Design Coordinator at School of Continuing Studies, University of Richmond.


For me, logo ownership depends on the agreement with the specific client and whether the logo may have been designed for a business, educational facility, nonprofit organization, government agency, product or event. In setting up the project with a potential client, the predetermined options within are:

A. The client assumes full reproduction rights upon payment for completed project.

B. One time reproduction rights for the specified project, at the agreed fee, are granted to the client. Any other usage must be negotiated.

C. All reproduction rights on the copyrighted work are retained by the designer. The work may not be reproduced in any form without consent from the designer.

Of course, there’s always room for negotiating – but everything is always defined within an agreement signed by both parties.

In any case, I do always retain some rights for myself. My project agreement specifies:

“The designer retains personal rights to use the completed project and any preliminary designs for the purpose of design competitions, future publications on design, educational purposes and the marketing of the designer’s business. Where applicable the client will be given any necessary credit for usage of the project elements.”

I’ve walked away from potential design projects when parties have not agreed to that last item in my agreement.

Jeff Fisher engineers innovative graphic identity solutions in helping businesses and organizations to get, and stay, on the right track. He is also a published author of design-related books, including Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands and The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success.


Basically the designer was hired to design the brand/identity for the client. Once the client/customer pays for it, the client /customer is the rightful owner. The designer/creator
of the brand/identity is free to show it in their portfolio as examples of their professional creativity. This is their means of getting future business.

John Spiegel is the President/Design Consultant at graficSpiegel. He is a savvy designer with a strong mix of creative and business management and organization skills.


I’ve only designed one logo for a business that I kept the copyright to, and that was about 10 years ago. I will never do it again because there is so much rampant plagiarism going on these days.

Lets say you give the client exclusive rights to use the logo you designed, but you as the designer keep the copyright. Then, if someone comes along and decides that they want to lift the logo and use it, what happens then? Does that become your legal problem and expense because you own the copyright?

I think is makes way more sense to sell the full copyright and ownership of the logo to the client, and they can deal with any issues that come up after that. Plus, I’m not sure that very many companies these days will be up for not owning their corporate logo outright.

With over 15 years worth experience, Marco Echevarria has been helping businesses market their brands more effectively through custom identity designs and unique illustrations. He replied to us on LinkedIn.


“The designer/creator of the brand/identity is free to show it in their portfolio as examples of their professional creativity. This is their means of getting future business. “

Most often this is true if a designer is working independently of an agency or design firm, but it’s not ALWAYS the case. I know of many cases with other designers, and have experienced a few myself over the last 35 years, where a designer is hired to create a logo design and specifically not permitted to even claim the work as their own – and certainly not allowed to show the design in a physical or online portfolio. That is why my contract has the clause it does. If working within an agency/design firm, the employee is sometimes forbidden to to exhibit the work as their own by the contract they have with an employer. I know of several designers receiving notifications from the attorneys of previous employers, demanding that design work, including logos, be removed immediately from online portfolios. I recommend that any designer going into an employment situation have a good understanding of the rights/permissions issues before accepting a job. The ability to share the work one has created is not always a given these days.

Retaining partial ownership of logo designs has actually been of help to me in regards to the issue of plagiarism. With over 300 of my designs having been ripped off in just the last 2.5 years by designers who apparently don’t know when to draw the line between inspiration and imitation, I am often notified of infringements from design peers familiar with my work. I have it down to such a system now that I can often deal with the issue without having to involve my clients. In some cases, my client and I – working together – have been able to “double team” infringers quickly to a satisfactory resolution.


With my work in over 180 design books at this point, maintaining reproduction rights has been very helpful in being able to submit work for publication – without having to go back to my client time and time again for specific permission. When a newspaper, magazine, online resource or educator contacts me asking for permission to include/share my work I have the ability to do so legally with my signed project agreements. Publication in books, magazines and elsewhere has also been helpful in dealing with plagiarism situations. In one instance, a company was going on and on about how they could not have possibly ripped-off my logo design, because theirs was created in 2000. When I was able to share that my logo had been published in a 1994 book, they were singing a different tune.

Of course, in my own situation, it has been helpful that my husband has been in the legal industry for almost 20 years. A lot of excellent legal advice is available to me at the “friends and family” rate.

The client owns the rights to the FiNAL logo choice. I retain the right to the variations not chosen and state that in my contract. WE as designers are being paid to create an identity for a client. The logo is just like raising children…
raise them to have wings and then let then fly away to have their own identity!!

Dyan Sutton is a Branding Specialist and Owner of Creative Idea Matter, she specializes in creating visual messages that spark emotion and ignite brand conversation. She tweets at @dyansutton.


My contract states the ownership/copyright of the logo doesn’t transfer to the client until the design has been paid for in full. Up until then I retain ownership. Once they’ve paid, it is all theirs. Like Dyan, any rejected concepts I retain copyright to. It is simple business. If I catch them using a logo concept they have not paid for, I bill them for every unauthorized use of the logo I can find.

Patricia Schaefer is a Graphic Artist based in Dallas. She runs Contemporary Native, a commercial design firm, and teaches secondary/college level Arts.


That’s interesting. Here in Germany (the country of rules and regulations 😉 ) things are different. The Designer always (by law) stays the “owner” of a logo. I as a designer couldn’t change that, even if I wanted to, because I am the “Urheber” (originator, author) and will always be. So I will always have to negotiate with the client. Usually I give the unlimited or exclusive rights of use “away” to the client which makes him a de-facto owner. But of course I will always keep the right to show my work in a portfolio as an example of my professional creativity.

Thomas Seifert is a brand identity consultant and CEO of TOMCOM. He replied to our post on LinkedIn.


The author/designer has all rights and gives license to the client. If the client wants to change the logo or use it for a bigger or different company he should ask permission. Which is of course preferable as designer.

Nicole E. Zonderhuis is a creative and passionate brand strategist and designer at Webcraft, creative design agency in Utrecht, Netherlands. She is an active LinkedIn Fellow and you can find her profile here.


I think the word “ownership” is misleading in this (german) case.In germany (and probably in Holland) you can own a piece of paper with the logo printed on. But you can not own the logo itself because it’s nothing material. It is an Idea or a creation. Same thing with written word. You can own the book but not what’s written inside. For those who are interested, you can find an explanation here:

Maybe this will answer your Question (Quotes from Wikipedia):
“The Urhebergesetz is an authors’ right (“droit d’auteur”) or “monistic” style law. As such there is a special emphasis on the relation between the work and its actual author.[3] The right is perceived as an aspect of the author’s general personality right and as a general rule is therefore inalienable. This also means that there is no corporate copyright in Germany[4] and the fundamental rights cannot be transferred except by heritage.”


“While exclusive licences are almost as powerful as copyright transfer, the author always retains some rights to the work, including the right to prevent defacing and to be identified as the author.[6] Employment agreements are frequently construed as granting the employer an exclusive licence to any works created by the employee within the scope of his obligations.”

Regarding the client this means that all that matters is the “right of use”, which is regulated by a contract. If your client wants the exclusive right of use and you give it to him, he’s the only one who has the right to use the logo. That excludes even you as the Designer. But if necessary, he has to mention your Name as creator / author.

Very interesting discussion with great points and a global perspective. I had always assumed – right or wrong – that the ‘logo’ belonged to the designer (or their ’employer’) until it was paid for in full, but the design still had a residual right to use the same in their ‘portfolio’ for their self marketing purposes.

That seems to be the easy part.

However logos and identities are not an end in themselves. If they are managed well, they become a part of the clients success business. Clients invest huge resources turning them into visual idents for brands, products and services – with huge emotional (and financial) implications both for the client and their customers. Businesses grow and shrink, merge and get involved in new areas of operations. A start-up (say What-an-app!) worth nothing a few years back, grows into a multibillion success story.

Does the designer hang around hoping to get a windfall too? If so, how would you ‘charge’?

What does the ‘client’ really pay for?

Victor Otieno is an aspiring creative with an appreciation for good strategy and love for Africa and the environment. He is the owner of Pure Design Limited and responded to our discussion on LinkedIn.

As the client has commissioned the designer to create a logo or corporate image, on payment, the logo and image belong to the client. If it is not paid for, the copyright belongs to the designer.


LEGALLY, the original creator of any piece of art, which includes logos, owns all copyrights to the art. The client owns the logo, ONLY after the artist signs over all rights to the logo to them.
In order to assure our clients that they will own their logos, we put in our contract that once their bill is paid we will sign over ownership of the logo to them. If we did not put that in our contracts we would retain ownership.
A logo is no different than a photograph. You normally hire a photographer to shoot a photo. They charge you to use the photo, but you have to pay considerably more to own it. If you are an salaried employee, then the company you work for immediately owns the art.

Interesting comments from everybody. Why don’t we have some legal friends to make recommendations here? Different countries have different laws to govern the logo and CI copyrights. In Hong Kong, we pretty much follow U.S. and U.K. rules and regulations, designers (or freelance) think everything they created is owned by the clients or the agencies. In most of the design schools in Hong Kong, they rarely teach or even address the legal side of design or creativity. Eventually, they will either give up or ignore the issues. I always told my design students in the past that all legal documents related to their creative work should be signed and agreed by both parties, the designer and the client. However, most of the designers in the world don’t know how to protect themselves from the beginning and are not aware of the Copyright Law & Its Generalities. They will see filing legal documents to be the least of their priorities. So, they will continue to create without protecting themselves from lawsuits.

Tim B
It really depends on the Terms & Conditions that are agreed at the start of any project.
Typically, T&Cs in the UK would likely grant license of use to the client, not ownership.
Even when agreeing to do work for foreign clients a good set of T&Cs will state that the agreement comes under UK law (or the respective law of the location of the designer). This prevents any dispute on under whose law any dispute should be judged against.

If you are a designer and do not issue T&Cs at the start of a project you will be exposing yourself or your business to possible disputes that need resolving through litigation.

The Takeaway

Regardless of what you believe about who owns the logo design, it is the professional and moral responsibility of the designer to make the subject of ownership/copyright extremely clear to the client.

Whatever terms and conditions you want, be it just the license to use the logo or complete ownership, let your clients know from the word go. State your logo copyright ownership agreement terms clearly in your contract. Not doing so will create confusion and may end up making you look like an unprofessional and dishonest person.

In the end…

We have requested some top-notch designers, such as Juri Zaech, Jacob Cass, David Airey, and Nicole Martinez, for their opinions on the matter and we will be updating the post once we hear back from them. Meanwhile, comment and let us know your take on the subject. Do you believe that clients should get sole ownership of the logo design? Or should designers keep the copyrights to themselves? Comments please!

Free Logo Maker

Author Bio:    

Evan is an Expert in Digital Marketing. He has been working in the social media space since 2008, with a focus on design services, user interface planning, branding and more. Currently, he is leading content marketing efforts at DesignMantic and has played an integral part in the success story of DesignMantic through strategic marketing campaigns. Evan is also a design pro, who has shown a predilection towards DIY design projects.

31 thoughts on “Who Actually Owns the Logo Design – The Client or Designer?

  1. Thanks for article but when it comes to getting designer sign the agreement about copyright and ownership transfer to client, can you refer to the resource where appropriate template for such agreement can be found? Thanks

  2. What if I create a logo for a friend and there is no payment made, do I (the designer) still own the rights to that logo? i.e. am I entitled to royalties for everything that logo appears on?

    • The question I would ask here is, did you undergo any paperwork? If you did not mention ownership in the contract, I believe the business owner or your friend has got the ownership by default. You are not entitled to royalties, etc. unless your friend grants it.

  3. Can I refuse payment for a logo I created. I invoiced a client 4 months ago and after some time I noticed he used the logo in a newspaper ad without paying me. Now 4 month later after I sent him a cease and desist letter and he only wants to pay me the amount due and late fees. He had his lawyer call me and asked what it would take to settle this? I gave him an amount and my client sent a check for half. Do I have to accept payment or can I refuse to sell him the rights to use the logo?

    • Hi Steve,

      Here’s what our expert believes in this matter: “Do not cash the check, as this would be seen as acceptance. Have your lawyer call his lawyer. He’s already admitted liability, so it’s a discussion of money now. The settlement should cover your lawyers costs as well as the logo work and late fees.

      You’ll never get any work from this client ever again (I don’t think you were expecting any, anyway?). But the experience will stand you in good stead if it ever happens again – you’ll know exactly what to do (and I think you’re proceeding correctly at the moment).”

  4. Hi, If i started a business with a friend and others but there was no contract except for the one that says I own 10% of said business, As the sole designer, I definitely own the website and all the artwork, logos etc, right?

    In a position where others want me to lower my percentage to give to a paying investor, but not their percentage of the company. I have been told they plan to re-register the company under a different trade name, making it a different legal identity so my agreement for the percentage i owned before is void anyway.

    They are standing firm on this to me but i want to argue that I own all the material/ design work then, which has been printed on all the products. I need some leverage to argue with, they just keep saying that I never put 15 grand in when the company started, which 3 of them did each, that it is unfair if they lower their percentage considering their investment, despite me arguing i put hundreds of hours, almost a year of my time in the business. 🙁

    • Hi Peter. First, I’m pretty certain that you are still 10% owner of your company. Just because a company re-registers (or changes their name) doesn’t change their legal obligations. They will most likely have to include on their registration application any other names they’ve been doing business under; aka name of business. This is primarily done for purposes such as the one your are in, and too, for people they have legal or financial obligations to. The wonderful news is that YOU! own 100% of the website you designed for them. The 10% they agreed to give you has absolutely nothing to do with your ownership of the website. The 10% represents payment for your “time” and nothing more. Even if they paid you a million dollars to design a website for them, you are still the rightful owner of the site and ALL the the artwork they are using to market their business belongs to you alone. There is a lot of information online about these laws. What people don’t appreciate is that the money paid to an artist is for their time, not their designs. You hold all the cards. Good luck!

  5. I was so tired of the cheap looking logo that a small business company that I am working for now had, that I created a better looking logo when I was working in my spare time but never got paid for it. Does the logo belong to me or the business?

  6. I don’t think it is fair to compare this situation with the car ownership. It is more like you make a design on the car after it been bought by someone from a dealer, the car is sold to someone for a huge price and you are asking them for a share of the huge sum. The artist is designing you something and if the logo makes your company a lot of money, as a result of the popularity and fame that comes along, the artist is entitled to a share. Or is it fair for the owner of the company or whoever is in charge to pocket millions while the designer earns a few 10s or even 100s only?I think designers should include such terms and conditions when they are handing over a logo to someone. Some companies could just earn millions by selling merchandise with their logo only, so shouldn’t the designer benefit from the sales in such circumstances?Thank you

    • Maybe the car analogy is not the best one, but I think your point is also not really valid. If Andy Warhol painted a car and because of that the car became worth millions, it would be because of his artwork. But a logo design in itself is not the thing that gives a brand its value. It is all of the marketing and advertising investment that creates that value. So I don’t think the designer deserves to share in that. A designer should charge an appropriate fee for his/her work and then be happy with that. And I am saying this as the creative director of an agency that does brand development for clients.

      Even in the case where for example Nike is putting its swoosh on a T-shirt and selling it for way too much money, the reason people buy it is not because of the intrinsic beauty of the swoosh. It is because of what it stands for and that has been created by Nike brand and product development over decades. It could have just as well been some other shape. In fact it is not really a very good logo, at least in my opinion.

  7. What a sensational post. This is tremendous chock-full of useful information. Your work is truly appreciated round the clock and round the globe. Your exuberance is refreshing.

  8. What if an illustrator creates the art work but and I use it on my business cards and website as my logo, should I be able to own that art work. They have agreed but I will have to pay double of what I originally was going to pay. Please help.

  9. I have hired an illustrator to do the art work for my business, to use on my business cards and eventually my website. Is that considered a logo? They are going to charge me 1100-1500. If I want to own it then the price will be double that. Is that reasonable and what should I look out whilst purchasing the transferring of ownership?

  10. This has been such a helpful post/read – thank you everyone. I feel much clearer in my mind now in terms of logo’s – as an illustrator I know where I stand and am confident about that but after just developing and re-designing a logo around an original idea drawn up by young people I didn’t quite know how to approach this… I loved the haircut analogy – a simple explanation and am pleased to say that I seem to be on the same page so it is all good – thank you

  11. A friend of mine works for a small design company that created a logo for a client. They were then commissioned by this same client to create a poster for them to give to some of their clients. The design company is now selling the poster online and pocketing the money. Is this legal? On the poster it states the clients name and on the bottom it says “commissioned by…for…” They are saying it is legal because the designer owns the logo and their was no contract that states otherwise. How is this legal???

  12. This is my first time designing a logo ever. I don’t know anything about this area of work definitely new to this game. I have know idea of how to charge and how to include my rights and royalties? Where can I obtain a contract of this nature? If you have any additional information that I need to cover myself before releasing my work please share. If it is better to sign off the rights due to future legal issues. I read comments concerning selfishness concerning holding the rights, payment and being able to show your work in a portfolio without being sued. Not able to display your work on the internet in your portfolio. Your guidance needed.

    Thank you,


  13. I think anytime a client pays for someone to design a logo for them and they pay the agreed upon fees, the client should own the logo and should have the right to copyright it, service mark it and/or trademark it. Clients are paying for the service and/or the finished product (logo). If designers think they should own the copyright, let’s take a poll from the clients or general public and see what they think. I can assure you, the majority (if not all) will think the client should own the copyright because that is the right thing to do. The analogy of buying a car is a perfect example. If a person designs an image that can be used in making a logo and doesn’t sell it as exclusive, then I can see them having the right to resell that image over and over. When adding that image though to a business name, then that whole design copyright should be retained by the person who bought it. All designers should have their terms about who owns the copyright once the logo is paid for front and center on their website or should be the first thing they tell the client so the client doesn’t have to waste time and deal with the hassle later. If a designer doesn’t allow me to own the copyright once I paid for it, I will not do business with them and that WILL be the first thing I want to know before having them do the work. The clients will put those designers who think they should own the copyright out of business if they have the choice to decide between designers who only grant licenses and those who give their clients the copyright. I do think designers should always have the right though to use it in their portfolios.

  14. what if the clients is not willing to pay after receiving the logo ? how can you protect yourself as a designer if the logo doesn’t belong to you ? shall the logo be trademarked on the designer company until payment and then full ownership of the client


  15. I am running into this currently with an old client who is asking for additional work. I have no problem providing the final logo/design choice and I provide multiple versions for various uses (single color, full color, grey scale, b&w, social media, etc). I have on occasion provided variants of images and design treatments as a courtesy to a good client. My issue is I have begun to find this one group is photoshopping my designs and manipulating them…using them in unintended ways. in one instance they recolored a piece of artwork and slapped it on a t-shirt and it looked horrid. In another case they broke the logo up into multiple pieces and applied the wording in an entirely different font types than my original design. In other cases they actually created their own variation on the logo and now have come to me to “redesign” what was essentially a hack job they did in the first place.

    They now are questioning why they cannot just do whatever they want and I am pondering legal action at worst or just never working with them again at the very least.

  16. How about this scenario: I’m a designer for over 20 years, a certain celebrity gave me the task of creating a shirt logo, verbally. I created it with my staple watermark hidden within the design of which she was informed.
    A competitor decided they didn’t want competition, the celeb caters to the other client because she gets more donations through her own ventures.

    So the game (excuse) was, they are not allowing me to sale this shirt for her because she didn’t like a shirt I created on a unrelated site.

    My question, I was verbally ask for the custom shirts, I create them with my watermark imbedded, they sell she makes money for her 501c3 now she says she only wants the other team to do work.
    I’m stuck with all the inventory for her/my store she approved and now I’m stuck with everything I, created, my time, software and my investment is in the tank. Keep in mind there is no slogan, no copyright it’s her frirst name with sisters wrote after.

    Can I go ahead and sell this custum design T I designed and paid for?

    Belly Culture
    The Travelers Eye
    The Gypsy Wagon LLP Designs .

  17. Ok those that assert that the logo is the property of the client clearly do not understand the scope of the marketing branding industry. For example, if you are a law firm or some service where branding is not a value of its own, then yes, the logo should be priced to belong to the client after work is complete. However, if you do work for a CPG client that plans to trademark the logo, then there should be a dialogue of usage rights. For example, if a client hires you to design a unique brand that will be printed on packaging and be used on all social media and internet promotions, then you should charge more for the logo than for let’s say a Yoga instructor. Moreover, if the logo becomes the identity of a huge brand that starts to use the logo for merchandise (such as t-shirts, hats, mugs and other apparel unrelated to the product being packaged) then the designer or agency should write up a percentage of royalties of those sales. Why? Because the value of the logo has become a product in its own right and its intended usage has changed. This extra value warrants the agency or designer to continue to make money from the success of their creative work. The company can, however, negotiate to buy out ALL rights of the logo if they want to own it 100%. Mind you, this situation is only relevant when you are working on a brand that has a potential of becoming national, international / fortune 500. Where millions of impressions become a reality. This is why we have million dollar logos versus $50 on crowd sourcing hack sites.

    • I don’t agree with this at all. Can you name a Fortune 500 company where the logo itself played a major role in the value of the brand? Most of them in fact are pretty exchangeable. I work in this industry and yes, there are logos that might cost a million, but not for the reasons you suggest. Nobody buys a T-shirt with a giant Calvin Klein written across it because they just so love the typography. They do it because they want to be associated with the brand behind the name.

  18. Wow amazing, so much half-knowledge. Copyright issues are clearly regulated by law. Yes designers have all the rights and ownership when they create a logo for example. Gee just look it up, it is the same like if you are a musician, you write a song for a singer and when the guy can do whatever they want? Hell no.

  19. nice blog post! the content is very useful. thank you for this amazing blog post. keep posting such kind of stuff in the future.

  20. I hire an architect. He designs a flagship building for me. Yet the design of the building is the intellectual property of the architect. I am not free to build as many buildings as I can with the same blueprints.

    I go for dinner at my favorite restaurant. The establishment does not give me the recipe nor the cooking utensils to create the meal. They claim intellectual property.

    I attempt to buy local pizzeria … known for a certain style pizza. The owner presents a price well beyond what is expected. During the negotiation made to understand that I am not just purchasing a building … but, the success of the business is dependent upon the recipes. The recipes are the intellectual property of the current owner. There is a value to the intellectual property.

  21. Although a lot to learn from these experiences and a logo also serves as an eye capturing the moments at first that describes the half of the theme of your product but there is a lot more to describe.

  22. Agree with your thoughts. According to the famous quote “first impression is last”. So considering Logo is also a first impression to any website, mobile application or any other business. Logos should be meaningful and elegant that express to whole idea off your business.

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