March 22nd, 2019
Legal Talk 9: What's Copyright and How Does it Help Me and My Business?
So, your marketing people have been on the phone to you again. They are banging on about designs and suddenly they start mentioning copyright this and copyright that and your mind just goes into a foggy copyright blur and you wish you knew what they were talking about.
You set up a quick meeting for us. You can read hundreds of books on copyright but the bare essentials are (in my humble opinion) the following:
1. Copyright arises when you create a literary work (such as, by way of example, a drawing, a picture, a logo, a novel and even computer code). It arises automatically in the UK and doesn't need to be registered. The quality of what can be copyrighted is actually very low and so in some cases just a few scribbles or a fairly basic logo can be copyrighted, for example, the Nike tick. For more information on what copyright is, I found this resource particularly good: https://www.bbc.co.uk/copyrightaware/what-is.
2. Copyright means that once you have, say, your logo, then you will have copyright in it and what this means is that others should not copy what you have done otherwise they will be infringing your copyright.
3. Key thing to watch here is that if a design agency is creating the logo for you then (in the absence of any contract or written agreement specifying otherwise), they will own the copyright in your logo, even if you have paid them!
Oh no you say. You don't think you have any written agreement with the design agency!!!
I say that you just need some kind of paperwork confirming that once you have paid them then all the rights (including copyright and all other intellectual property rights) that relate to the logo belong to you. You dash in a panic to go and sort this out.
Looking forward to seeing you again.
Your Legal Coach
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