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can anyone help please need some advise with design rights?

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Brad Mulock

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:11 pm

can anyone help please need some advise with design rights?

Hi guys,

firstly, Merry Christmas. :drink4:

I have been asked by a construction company to provide a quotation to sign write all of their vehicles.

They have had two of the new vehicle sign written by another company who have upon the instruction of the client changed the design slightly.

The other sign company have since become very unreliable and ultimately have lost the deal with said construction company.

The construction company want to continue using the new design but are concerned about design rights.

Where do they stand? There is no formal contract between the companies apart from the invoice supplied for sign writing two vehicles.

I hope i'm being clear enough here, Bit of brain freeze going on at the moment with the run up to Christmas.

Thanks for looking

Brad
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Phill Fenton

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:47 pm

It's a tough one. The other company may well retain copyright and will probably have stated as such on any printouts of their layout saying this should not be copied without their permission.

I'm always a bit suspicious of a new customer that comes to me complaining that he is dissatisfied with the company he used to get his signs from. Usually there's more to it than meets the eye. Often it's the customer that is causing problems and this may well be why he has turned to you. I may be wrong - but I would be a little bit cautious.
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Brad Mulock

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:01 pm

Hi Phil,

It was my first thought when i was approached, perhaps the client is the one looking for a better deal etc.

One of my old school friends works for the construction company so i asked him what he knew about it all, his reply was:-

"I have been waiting for almost 5 weeks to have my van done and on two separate occasions they have told me to drive to their yard and no one has been there."

This is a tough one though. I am thinking, perhaps i will just photograph one of the new vehicles then vectorise the photographed images thus making it my interpretation of their existing artwork ???
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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:09 pm

I tend to agree with Phill...even if he has a strange hairdo.

I would be careful, but try to help the customer, after a deposit, of course.
I would take a pic of their existing van and try to rebuild it while also making it look better.
I would also offer them an alternative design of entirely your own choosing, and maybe they will go for your idea.
Again...deposit deposit deposit.
And no sketches or anything else without a deposit.
Love....Jill
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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:07 pm

I would have thought that whilst said sign company would have a copyright (if marked as such) on any artwork produced for a quote or job, that would pass over to the customer once the client has paid for the job.
It would depend on what contract if any was made for the initial job.
By the customers approach I would imagine none bar a couple of vans.
If we all declined any job which had pre-existing layouts then we would be well down on jobs.
I would just add to any quotes that the customer has the right to use the design for his own future use, and get him to sign such a declaration.
I have successfully sued a customer for copyright infringement based on them copying my artwork. Accordingly, if there was a problem with this job it would be the customer who would be liable to the other sign company, not yourself.
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John Childs

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:11 pm

We get this all the time.

Copyright is difficult. We are forever being asked to copy existing designs, sometimes for companies that have used the same design for many years, so making changes, no matter how small, is out of the question.

Usually we get the enquiries simply because the customer is changing his leasing company and we are the preferred graphics supplier for the new one, whereas we weren't for the old. Sometimes there is dissatisfaction, real or imagined, with the existing supplier.

In this case you say " another company who have upon the instruction of the client changed the design slightly". Well, what's to stop the customer showing you an old van and instructing you to make the same changes? Sometimes you have to take these things in good faith.

I don't see any difficulty with the possibility of them being a problem customer. Just go in there with the price and conditions that you are prepared to work to and try to win the business on those terms. If you get it, one of two things will happen: you are both happy and have a long and fruitful relationship, or they are indeed a pain and you end up dumping them. Where's the downside there?

Also, don't forget that someone who might be a problem customer to someone else might be fine with you. I have examples of customers who others of my acquaintance refuse point blank to serve, whereas I get on well with them. Sometimes it just comes down to chemistry.

Of course this construction company is looking for a better deal (not necessarily cheaper). That's only good business, and something we should all be doing. Shouldn't we?
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Brad Mulock

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 4:32 pm

Hi Guys,

thanks to all of you for your input.

I will take the advice given and put it into practice a little later. I am meeting with the buyer for the company tonight to go over the finer details of my quotation.

I will offer a slight change in design, possibly move the telephone number to a different location, that sort of thing.

I will also add a disclaimer to the quotation and all corresponding emails / faxes suggesting that we are taking the work on with the understanding that any and all design issues are the clients responsibility to resolve.

Can't see it being too much of a problem if i'm honest.

thanks again.

Brad
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Ian Johnston

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:39 pm

I've had a very similar problem today but have been in the receiving end of the dispute.

I never used to charge for design until recently, i how put at the bottom of all quotes that all logo and signage designs, remain my property, if used by a third party a fee of £xxx pounds will be charged, if job proceeds it will be waivered.

If i do a job and get paid the design becomes theirs, if not it mine. simple

I designed a rush job a few weeks ago signage, etch work etc, even tag line.
I was reading my local paper today to see full colour photos of the signs, etch work identical to my design, signage colours and tag line identical the only difference was the font of the name of shop.

Just posted my invoice for the design work compete with photos of completed work and copy emails stating dates etc.
He doesn't agree that the design is mine as it was altered ( i.e font of main name) .
we will let the judge decide, BEEN THERE, DONE THAT , GOT THE T-SHIRT & THE MONEY :lol1:
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David Rowland

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Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:56 pm

by any chance this construction company is a nationally recognized name?
if so then a graphics dept would be the copyright holders.

It will be down to paperwork signed by construction company with prevoius sign company. Unless their invoicing or emails/paperwork is adrift where they haven't protected themselves.
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Dave Bruce

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:59 pm

This has popped up again :) When I made enquiries re copyright some years ago the various bodies informed me that there is no copyright on the layout of the text on say a van, however if the text (Font) has been artistically altered then it is copyright.
I had this with a customer 3 years ago, he didn't want to change his lettering so I refused to do the job, the other sign company actually phoned and threatened court action if I copied the layout, I have since redone the design with a different font.

Peter, "If we all declined any job which had pre-existing layouts then we would be well down on jobs" I have never copied someone else's design and in fact refused to do various jobs over the years as I know the other sign company has done the design, and I still have more work than I can cope with.

On the other side of the coin I have had a customer get another sign company put my design on his van after I did his first two, this was for his convenience so his van was ready for work before being delivered. After questioning him he has asked to buy the copyright of me so he can use the design where ever he wants.

Cheers

Dave
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Hugh Potter

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:52 pm

i probably reproduce as much existing artwork, as i submit new work. i put a copyright disclaimer on my invoices, quotes, and artwork. it basically says two things......

All design work carried out by us (my company), be it layout, logo's, colour schemes, and wording, remains the copyright of 'my company'. We do not charge for initial consultation, nor do we charge for design on a job which is carried through to completion. Design copyright can be purchased if you wish to take your business elsewhere. we do, however, give permission for the artwork to be used for general stationary and non signage advertising,


copyright..
you (the customer) are liable for obtaining any copyright permissions required from the designer / owner of the layout, logo's, brand names and fonts.
By accepting this quotation, signing and returning the proposal, and asking us to duplicate your current artwork etc, you are accepting all responsibility for having attained the rights for reproduction. (my company) are not liable for any copyright issues which may subsequently arise.

or something along those lines, right or wrong (legally) thats what we ask them to sign and agree to in the small print.
i'm actually going to review it all over the xmas break anyways, i haven't read it for a long time!
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Hugh Potter

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:55 pm

Hugh Potter wrote:i probably reproduce as much existing artwork, as i submit new work. i put a copyright disclaimer on my invoices, quotes, and artwork. it basically says two things......

Design.
All design work carried out by us (my company), be it layout, logo's, colour schemes, and wording, remains the copyright of 'my company'. We do not charge for initial consultation, nor do we charge for design on a job which is carried through to completion. Design copyright can be purchased if you wish to take your business elsewhere. upon completion of the contract we do give permission for the artwork to be used for general stationary, and non signage advertising,


copyright..
you (the customer) are liable for obtaining any copyright permissions required from the designer / owner of the layout, logo's, brand names and fonts.
By accepting this quotation, signing and returning the proposal, and asking us to duplicate your current artwork etc, you are accepting all responsibility for having attained the rights for reproduction. (my company) are not liable for any copyright issues which may subsequently arise.

or something along those lines, right or wrong (legally) thats what we ask them to sign and agree to in the small print.
i'm actually going to review it all over the xmas break anyways, i haven't read it for a long time!
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Gavin MacMillan

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:22 pm

I'll reproduce pretty much any bit of artwork and I'll also send anything we have to another sign company if our customer wants to use someone else for convenience.

We are making signs and helping people brand there business, not very helpful if they can't use the designs on various things from different suppliers I wouldn't think

Is the time you spend on design worth the reputation of being really unhelpful?

My tuppence (and mine alone I'm expecting :D )
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Hugh Potter

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:35 pm

Gavin MacMillan wrote:I'll reproduce pretty much any bit of artwork and I'll also send anything we have to another sign company if our customer wants to use someone else for convenience.

We are making signs and helping people brand there business, not very helpful if they can't use the designs on various things from different suppliers I wouldn't think

Is the time you spend on design worth the reputation of being really unhelpful?

My tuppence (and mine alone I'm expecting :D )


i don't see it as being unhelpful, if a customer wants the artwork to produce some letterheads etc, i ask them to get the printer to contact me with regards the format they want it in, if they want the artwork, but have not paid for a job, ie not covered what could have taken me several hours to make, then they will have to pay for my time, i offer a service.

if i went into a tailors on saville row, got measured up, had the cloth mock-up made, and then asked if i could just take the design cos i think someone else could do it better or cheaper, do you think i'd be given it, or be landed with a very big bill?

thats the way i see it anyways. :D
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Dave Bruce

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:46 pm

Gavin, I don't see it as unhelpful either, if they want letterheads/business cards etc we get them printed for them. I also do clothing, so there is no need to go elsewhere unless I have upset them :D

The recent issue is with the local paper, I have asked them on several occasions if they think about copyright when producing an ad, I have supplied artwork to them numerous times to help my customer out, but always think I spent time designing that why should the paper have an easy time and make more money than me :lol1:

Dave
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Nick Minall

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:03 pm

So is it our place to decide who has copyright? or is it up to whoever is asking you to do it?


Nick.
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Gavin MacMillan

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:07 pm

We do the same with our free brochure thing up here - but I just don't mind. All part of the service and the reason everyone keeps coming back. We don't get involved in clothes or cards or whatever so point people in the right direction and offer to pass artwork on, in return the local printer uses us for large wide format stuff and the local t-shirt guy passes plenty our way as well, everyones happy!

No offense intended Hugh but your disclaimer to me reads 'I'll copy any artwork you want me too, but don't copy mine'

Also in that kind of thing, where does stationary or small POS become signage and how do you draw the line?

Your design time should be charged to the customer and then the artwork is there's. If you do design for free on the understanding of them coming back then you need to have some kind of contract. If I pay to get a suit measured then I would expect to take the measurements as well (Not something I've ever done by the way!) Where else would you pay a trade (as I see signmakers) and get nowt in return? I wouldn't pay a builder to build a house for me that he then allows me to live in?? Ok crap example but you get the idea.

I'm a bit bored if you can't guess, this isn't something I'm very passionate about but that we seem to do different from others and it's always interesting to have an opinion most people think is rubbish :D
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Hugh Potter

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Post Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:20 pm

Gavin MacMillan wrote:No offense intended Hugh but your disclaimer to me reads 'I'll copy any artwork you want me too, but don't copy mine'

Also in that kind of thing, where does stationary or small POS become signage and how do you draw the line?

Your design time should be charged to the customer and then the artwork is there's. If you do design for free on the understanding of them coming back then you need to have some kind of contract. If I pay to get a suit measured then I would expect to take the measurements as well (Not something I've ever done by the way!) Where else would you pay a trade (as I see signmakers) and get nowt in return? I wouldn't pay a builder to build a house for me that he then allows me to live in?? Ok crap example but you get the idea.

I'm a bit bored if you can't guess, this isn't something I'm very passionate about but that we seem to do different from others and it's always interesting to have an opinion most people think is rubbish :D


no offense taken Gavin, what it is trying to say is... and i will be rewording it all now i've re read it, is

that we respect others copyright, but it is not down to us to seek it, it is the customer, we only make what the customer wants, if they want, then they can seek out the permissions to use. this way, they sign to agree to that, and as such, cover me, as to my knowledge, they will have sought the permission, though in real life i guess 99% wouldn't even think of it.

the other bit is saying (and what i wrote isn't how i've worded it on my paperwork) that we hold copyright on our work that we produce. we design it, and usually don't charge for it, except when people mess me about, then it will be shown on the quote - the quickly reach decision then! so we own it, unless paid for, and the customer is welcome to buy it at x amount of hours times hourly rate.

lets face it, most designs take less than a couple of hours, so i'd sell em for around £50. if you went to a design agency, you'd be paying ridiculous amounts.

i am considering

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