Do you know who owns what?

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who owns what?When I was working with a designer (the brilliant Jakenna Creative Design) to develop the logo for The Trainers CPD Club I was reminded of a pretty horrifying experience one of my clients had with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

At the time I was working with a pretty big organisation who shall remain nameless to spare their blushes.  We’ll call them Company X.  They had approached a designer a few years previously to have a new logo developed for the business.  The new logo was duly created, agreed and subsequently used on all the usual places:  websites, marketing materials, headed paper, invoices and so on.

At the point I was working with Company X, they wanted to make themed versions of their logo so they could reflect the various seasons and festivities that take place during any given year (like Christmas).  They went back to the original designers to get a quote for the work, and as any good business would, they also took a couple of quotes for the work from elsewhere.

After considering all three options, it was decided that a new designer represented better value for money and ultimately would be able to do the work for cheaper.

A couple of days after informing all parties about their decision to use someone else, Company X received an email from the original designer saying that they were not allowed to use someone else as the ownership of the logo belonged to them (the original designer).

You can imagine their surprise.  Surely the copyright for their logo belonged to them.  It was, afterall, their logo.  But a quick investigation of the original brief with the designer didn’t stipulate that the copyright/ownership would transfer to the business once the logo was completed, so unfortunately the designer was right.  The copyright was theirs

If Company X wanted to make any changes at all (even small ones like spacing between words, colour shades etc) then they had to use their original designer to do the work.

In the end Company X”bought” the ownership and the copyright of the logo from the designers.  They felt in the longer term this was the best way of protecting their own business branding/image and IPRs.  They also re-viewed their agreement documents for material design and development to make sure the issue of copyright and ownership was covered and clearly stated before any documents were signed.

The big lesson for all of us here is to know who owns what!  Do you know who owns your training material?  It is you, your employer or your clients?  What about supporting materials you produce?

I’d love to hear your views and experiences on copyright and ownership – please share in the comments below or Facebook or twitter.

If you are at all unsure about this area,why not check out this months module in The Trainers CPD Club:  Trainer and the Law.  Absolutely packed full of all the information trainers need to ensure they stay on the right side of the law. It launches on 19th May and will be running for the full month.



Founder of Zostera Ltd and The Trainers CPD Club. I've worked in L&D for over 16 years across both the public and private sectors.

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