It is a common misconception that if you pay an external design agency to create a logo or branding on your behalf, then you must automatically own the rights in it.
Unfortunately this is not usually the case.
Unless you ask one of your employees to design your logo/branding (in which case you/your company will own the rights as employer), if you ask an external agency or freelance designer to create materials on your behalf then under UK Copyright Law, they will automatically own all the rights in the logo/branding they create.
The only exception to this rule is where the agency/designer has signed a written agreement legally transferring the copyright in the logo/branding to you. It is therefore always to be recommended that you request that they transfer the ownership to you by means of a Copyright Assignment.
So, why is it important that you own the rights in your logo anyway? If your external designer retains the rights in your logo it could mean in a worse case scenario that they could transfer the copyright to one of your competitors thus allowing them to legitimately use your logo!
Another reason for always ensuring that you own the rights is that as owner of the copyright, you have the right to stop others from copying your logo or adapting your logo or branding. If you are not the owner, then these rights will only be available to your design agency who in reality are unlikely to have any interest in enforcing your rights.
The other time that copyright becomes important is if you want to protect your logo/branding by registering it as a trade mark. Registering your logo or brand name as a trade mark is the most effective way of protecting it and if you don’t own the copyright then the true owner could potentially oppose the registration on the grounds that they, rather than you, were the original creator.
We have had many years’ experience of advising in relation to all aspects of copyright and trade mark law for clients across a wide range of business sectors. If you would like to arrange a free consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you, please get in touch.