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I have a client who has asked me to design a new logo. I had designed the current logo some 12 years ago and it's time for a brand and logo refresh. The client has asked that I use three typographical symbols to represent the company. However, two of those symbols are currently (and very prominently) being used by an internationally renowned gallery and museum in a similar way.

I've suggested that its neither good design nor a sensible brand direction to use another organisation's logo and brand elements - even if it's a different industry and context. Yet the client wishes to pursue the idea. Am I being asked to plagiarise?

  • If you have your own ideas, then present them to the client. If you don't have any ideas, then you have two choices: 1. Make logo the client wants. 2. Loose a client. – mrserge May 6 '15 at 1:47
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    Not really sure how anyone here can answer without seeing images. It sounds unethical if not a direct infringement. – Scott May 6 '15 at 1:54
  • I once heard it handled like this: The design is a bit unethical so you will get the logo. However the client signs a NDA contract forbidding them from saying who designed the logo. – joojaa May 6 '15 at 7:04
  • I agree with Scott. There's not enough information here. I think it could be answered either yes or no, depending on the symbols and the company size. A freelance architect asking to use a widely recognised architecture symbol probably isn't plagiarism regardless of who else uses it. Other cases are more complicated. – Dom May 6 '15 at 14:33
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    If you don't feel comfortable with it, that's all you need to know. Politely decline the gig. – DA01 May 6 '15 at 15:25
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If you have clarified that it would be a copy and your client has asked you to pursue regardless than they are asking you to plagiarise, perhaps with the assumption they may not be caught.

To tackle this you could explain to them the benefits of having a unique brand and if they are not convinced indicate it is a breach of your ethical boundaries.

If you were to go ahead the client will likely not value your work highly as they are aware it isn't your own, this can create problems down the track.

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I would tell them that they are plain and simple risking a potential lawsuit that could kill their business.

If they dont value your original logo ideas, then maybe you should consider moving on. I wouldnt want any potential legal issues as a result of something I designed.

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