PROTECT YOUR LOGO
Written on the 1 December 2010
• When engaging a third party as a contractor, use a written contract that is signed by the contractor, and provides for the company to own all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the relevant works. Ideally the contract would also include a consent to infringement of the contractor’s ‘moral rights’, including the right of attribution and the right to maintain the ‘integrity’ of the work.
• If the company has had valuable logos developed by contractors in the past, consider whether the contractor might now sign a deed of assignment of the copyright if asked. Of course the contractor may ask for more money to do this, or you may have trouble locating or identifying the relevant person. This is why it is best to address copyright ownership from the outset.
• In addition to securing copyright ownership, consider applying to register the logo as a trade mark. Think about whether the company would consider it a problem if a competitor used a similar logo even if they traded using a different name. Note also that trade mark registration is affected on a country by country basis. Accordingly it is important to consider your organisation’s current market places, as well as likely future markets.
• Remember also that even if you do not wish to register a logo as a trade mark, it would be prudent to have searches undertaken to check that it is not substantially identical or deceptively similar to any existing registered logos. Even though a logo may not be an exact copy of a copyright protected work, it can still infringe a registered trade mark if it is deceptively similar.