[thelist] Logo Design company graphics

Mattias Thorslund mattias at inreach.com
Wed Jan 26 13:14:45 CST 2005

dwain wrote:

> if you have a one-of-a-kind item that no one else has or can produce, 
> the law of supply and demand comes into play and the entity that 
> supplies can demand what the market will bear.  do you think that the 
> nike swoosh sold for a paltry sum?

Funny you mention the Nike swoosh! It sold for $35.00. Check Nike's own 
FAQ; e.g. at:

And, at the time it was created, that might have been what it was worth, 
more or less. What made it valuable today is millions and millions of 
dollars in marketing.

As for the law of supply and demands: A customer can pick from a large 
number of design companies and independent graphic designers. That's 
when a price or price structure should be agreed on. If the designer 
holds the logo hostage and demands a ridiculous sum of money to transfer 
the copyright after it's been created, that's extortion or fraud, or at 
the very least poor business practice.  And nothing stops the customer 
from taking their business elsewhere (for a new logo) at that point anyway.

It is true that when you create something new, you hold the copyright to 
it. But selling a logo without the copyright is like selling someone a 
car but witholding the right to drive it.  Or a left shoe without the right.

M. Seyon wrote:

>> Newsflash. Your Intellectual Property is not some logo you created 
>> for Bob's House of Cookies. Intellectual Property is the ability in 
>> your mind, to conceive and create *the next design*. Creating one 
>> design does not diminish your existing reserve of intellect, or make 
>> you less able to create other designs. Quite the opposite, in fact.
> intellectual property is the logo.  like you said it is the ability in 
> your mind to conceive and create the next design.  according to your 
> logic the first logo is not ip because there was not a preceding logo 
> created.  usually the first logo you create is in a design class; 
> everything after that is ip, according to your statement.  microsoft's 
> intellectual property is their source code, is their really any 
> difference between source code and a logo or photograph or book or web 
> site design?  i don't think so, do you?  

Neither of you is right on this.

There is a difference in the usefulness of those things as pertains to 
copyright. For a logo, I need all the rights. To use a piece of software 
I only need the copyright owner's permission to use it on one computer.

IP is not the same thing as copyright. I'd say copyright is a form of IP 
but not the only one. A book is copyrighted by the author, but it's only 
the words (and/or pictures) in it that are protected. The author does 
not own the ideas expressed in the book. Someone else could write 
another book based on the same ideas, and claim copyright on it.

Defining exactly what IP is, is thorny as hell. That's a whole different 
discussion, and there are too many misconceptions..

>> If you create that logo for someone, it holds precious little value 
>> to you. It is however, entirely your choice how stingy you are with 
>> it but it seems ridiculous to me to design a logo for someone, and 
>> tell them you own the copyright. What are you going to do with it? 
>> Reuse it for some other logo? Is your talent that limited in variety 
>> and scope?
> a work (web site, book, photograph, logo, etc.) is copyrighted by the 
> author upon creation of the tangible work.  an idea cannot be 
> copyrighted.  thus, the copyright owner owns the copyright for his/her 
> life plus 50 years, unless the time limit has been changed since 
> 1976.  logos are sometimes made up of elements and sometimes those 
> elements can be used successfully in another logo, thus the need to 
> maintain copyright control.  however, most designers do the logo for a 
> price and don't care how the piece is used.

Nonsense. This is very open to interpretation, but there is an 
expectation that something has to be sufficiently complicated before you 
can claim copyright to it. I can't tell you precisely where the line 
goes. While a book is copyrighted, none of the words, not even 
individual sentences are protected in the same way. You can quote 
several paragraphs (but maybe not several pages), citing "fair use".

Who owns the copyright to a circle? An arc? Who owns the phrase "Have a 
nice day"?

A good logo is easily recognized, distinct, and simple. If there are 
parts of it that look like someone else's logo, that's usually a bad 

>> I can understand retaining copyright for a book, which can be sold to 
>> different publishers, or a television show that can be syndicated, or 
>> a photograph that can be sold as fine art, stock photography, 
>> commercial photography, etc.
>> But a logo?? Please.
> again, that's why logos cost so much sometimes.

Not at all.  If you talk about creating a new logo, you can get one for 
$35.00 or $1 million, depending on your budget.  The cheapo logo can be 
just as successful as the expensive one, if it's good. 

In the end, the success of a logo is part "magical ju-ju", which is what 
you hope you're more likely to get by hiring some expensive logo 
designer firm, and part marketing dollars - lots of them.

If you talk about the selling of an established logo, what's reflected 
in the price is its market recognition, paid for in advertising - not 
the copyright itself.

>>>  it's an ip thing for the designer as well as a portfolio piece.
>> "The designer reserves the right to use this logo for 
>> self-promotional purposes."
> i agree with you.

This is an understandable wish from the designer. After transferring the 
rights to the customer (which can be a simple one-liner), you could ask 
if you may use the logo for your promotion - or it could be part of the 
contract in the first place. Some companies are paranoid enough to 
refuse but I think most won't have a problem.

Regards, Mattias

More views at http://www.thorslund.us

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