Today I’m going to be busting legal myths about logos, clients frequently want me to register their logos as a trademark and that’s a good idea to protect it. Every time I always ask them who created that logo for you? Because if you created the logo for yourself, there’s no worries. You own copyright in the logo and you can register it as a trademark. If you’ve seen my other videos, you’ll know that a trademark is like your superpower. It’s stronger than a business name, it’s stronger than a company name, it’s stronger than a domain name, and for a logo, it’s the ultimate protection.
So it’s sensible to register a trademark for your logo, but if a designer has designed a logo for you, then you have to make sure that they have assigned the copyright to you in writing. That means transferred the copyright to you, now I’m talking Australian law, in Australia, in writing. It needs to be in writing, it doesn’t have to be a fancy document, you can just email them and say “dear designer, please confirm that I own the copyright” So they’ve legally transferred ownership to you.
If that doesn’t happen, you can have the problem that one of my clients faced. It was actually a government department that had paid tens of thousands of dollars for a logo design, with public money. Then they modernized the logo, they changed some of the fonts, they made it a little bit more swirly and swishy. You could tell it originated from the original, but it was just slightly different. They then wanted to register the modernized version as a trademark.
Sensible, and as a courtesy, one of the staff members let the designer know that this was what was happening. The designer then came back to that government department and said, here are my terms and conditions that agreed to when I devised this, that means you are not allowed to modify and you are most certainly not to register a trademark for this logo. Which I thought was a bit crazy given that they had paid tens of thousands of dollars for it, but the designer was right.
That was in her terms and conditions, she owned the copyright, and only she could modify it. The myth is, if somebody designs a logo for me, then I own it, I can register it as a trademark and I can do anything I want with it. The question is, who owns the copyright? You can do all of those things, if you make sure you have in writing, something saying that you own the copyright. Most designers won’t have a problem with that, so that’s tip number one.
Tip number two is to be very careful of cheap logo designers. Once I decided, as a social experiment, to ask somebody on Fiverr to create a logo for me, where you pay five US dollars and they create something. Then I took the image and did an image search in Google and low and behold, the logo belonged in some obscure country.
If I had used that logo in good faith and that person said yes, I’ve assigned the copyright to you, she could not assign the copyright to me because she didn’t own the copyright in the first place. So when I have logos designed for my clients, I always ask the designer, do you design these from scratch or do you take images from elsewhere, from stock images, from standard image sources. Because it is worth paying more to have a unique image created and they can properly assign the copyright to you. It has been absolutely amazing busting legal myths with you to protect your business so that you can live the lifestyle that you deserve. My name is Cathryn Warburton and I am The Legal Lioness.