All Questions in Trademark Ownership >> Rights of the creative artist.

Rights of the creative artist.

Posted by . updated on 11/11/2009
I take part in open competitions for logo designs for startup companies mainly, on an internet site.  What are the restrictions that I am under as far as including the designs in my portfolio.

I've been told that without the explicit permission of the firm or individual holding the contest, I may not include them.  This was by someone other than any of the contest holders I've worked with.  I feel inclusion in my portfolio is the right of the creative author.  By including my work in my portfolio I am in no way trying to compete with their business, only promote my own work.  

Many of these firms have not registered their marks, and many consist of domain names, only.  

Any advice would be most welcome,
Pat Hacker
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Answers (5)
 
JSonnabend
Your question brings up two or three more relevant area's of law.  

First, the contract under which you are participating in the competitions may prohibit or otherwise limit your ability to use your work in your portfolio.  You'd have to review this contract (which may be in the form of "Terms and Conditions") to determine its impact, if any, on your situation.  Likewise for any contract between you and the recipient of your work.

Second, if the firms are using your work as a trademark, then you'd have to be careful in how you use the work.  Any use that implied endorsement by the firm or caused confusion in consumers might be problematic.

Finally, you may or may not be the author for copyright purposes, depending again the presence or absence of certain contract terms, and so that may impact your ability to use the work in your portfolio.  Same goes for the license granted to the firm, assuming you are the copyright author.

- Jeff
 
 
Pat Hacker
I've never had a problem with winning designs and being authorized, its the non winning entries and their status.

The guidelines as stated on the site, include nothing either way, and most contest holders never stipulate.
 
 
Pat Hacker
Should designers before even taking part in these contests require that the contest holder accept that what we may design is allowed to be included in our portfolios.  Afterall without being deemed the winner, that is the only thing we benefit from, in contributing to these contests.
 
 
Isaac
Sure, if you have the leverage/bargaining power to do so.   The contest holder is equally empowered to deny entry to artists insisting on terms the contest holder does not like.

From your description of the contest terms, it seems as if you would retain the copyright in your design and that your main problem would be with trademark infringement or implying a false endorsement.   It may be possible to work around these things even without the permission of the contest holder.

How does the contest holder end up securing the rights to the winning design?
 
 
Pat Hacker
Many times after winning I've been ask to sign a release and copyright release.  Signing over all rights to the purchase.

Sometimes this doesn't happen but they have stated in their opening post in the contest that they request all rights to the winning entry at the end of the contest.

I usually assume if my design wins that they own all rights in the future.  Afterall I have been compensated.

My confusion is on the the entries I post that don't win.  In those cases I not received compensation nor signed a release.
 

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