Do you own the intellectual property in your logo, designs and website content? Are you sure? Suzanne Dibble of Lawyers4Mumpreneurs explains how to ensure your content and ideas are protected.
A lot of people assume that just because they pay a designer to create designs or a logo or a copywriter to create content, that they therefore automatically own the intellectual property (such as copyright) in that design, logo or content. This is an incorrect assumption. It is only when you have an express assignment of intellectual property right in the works, whether in the designer’s standard terms or in your bespoke contract, that you own the intellectual property.
It is important that you own the intellectual property rights to logos, content and designs as if you don’t, you may be restricted as to how you can use and modify that work. In addition, if at any stage you want to sell your business, a buyer will want to know that you have all the rights to the intellectual property used in your business.
You should therefore always make sure that your contract with your web designer, copywriter or graphic designer contains an express assignment of intellectual property rights. Some designers however, have a policy not to assign intellectual property rights and whether you can persuade them to assign them to you will depend on your negotiating position. Of course, you are always in a stronger position agreeing this upfront, when you are still free to take your business to another designer. If designers won’t assign you the intellectual property rights, then you need to make sure that you have a suitable licence to use the intellectual property for all of your needs. You should ensure that the licence is royalty free, worldwide, perpetual and (where the works are bespoke for you) exclusive.
If you need any advice on this area, a review of a contractor’s standard terms to check that they include a suitable assignment or licence, the drafting of a bespoke contractor agreement or a standalone assignment of intellectual property rights (which can correct the problem after the event if you are still on friendly terms with your designer or content creator), please contact Suzanne Dibble at firstname.lastname@example.org.