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I have a client who had a design they had done by another artist and wants me to finish up the logo using what they designed, im just worried legally if i can use what they did or what i need to get from the artist before making changes. Any suggestions?

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    I don't think that this is answerable in this state. More information is needed. Such as: Was the previous designer paid, was there a contract, does the logo infringe on any other logo? – Ovaryraptor Feb 26 '18 at 19:21
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    Yeah.. I'd question why the client isn't allowing the original artist to finish... sounds real shady to me. – Scott Feb 26 '18 at 20:27
  • I was told the artist just wasn't reliable and was meeting the deadlines they needed – CatBandit Feb 27 '18 at 15:28
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This depends entirely on whether the previous designer was employed to do "work for hire" or if there's other contract language granting client full IP rights to work, including derivative works which is what your "completing" their previous work would legally be.

If there's no explicit wording granting IP rights to client, they don't own any of it at all, and you're better off not using that starting point.

If the client or your working relationship with the previous designer is not in tatters, contact them and find out what the IP status is for that work - if they are on reasonable terms with client, they may be willing to issue a rights-granting for "completion". If however the client has failed to pay for work tendered, the previous designer would be fully within their legal rights to refuse to grant IP rights - and if that is the case, you should be very careful in contract dealings with said client.

I'm not a lawyer at all, and this shouldn't be taken as competent legal advice per se, but I am a multi-decade graphic designer & illustrator, so I am somewhat familiar with the topic at hand.

Nothing in this answer shall be considered legal advice and no attorney-client relationship has been established.

  • Thank you! I'll ask the client some questions and go from there. There is probably nothing in writing which would mean the artist owns the work....its just for a small local business so i dont know if im being to careful or not..? – CatBandit Feb 27 '18 at 15:30
  • No corporate ID is too small to be careful: smaller businesses tend to run small / no budget, and if they have serious IP issues it can destroy them. If they failed to pay, fired the other designer (whether for cause or not) and weren't careful about contract language, it can leave a legal exposure big enough to really hurt them should that designer choose to take them to court for misuse of copyrighted material. – GerardFalla Feb 27 '18 at 15:38

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