I’ve developed several designs for military units over the past few years for one particular store on a military installation which is a not for profit entity. Most of the designs were developed for collector coins and t-shirts which involve military units. My company used to provide many items for this client. Now my client has found services cheaper. I noticed the designs used on the t-shirts, cups, mugs, etc… are the designs I’ve developed and created. Since we were providing a retail item for this client, they were only charged hourly for the labor involved in developing artwork for that specific item. I did not think it would be fair or reasonable to sell the rights to the artwork at that point. I have no written contract with this client. After noticing the logos on most of the clients retail items in their store, I’ve asked for a sit down meeting. What kind of advise can you give me relating to the written contract?
You should consult a lawyer if you want to pursue this, but the general rule of copyright is that unless you have explicitly, in writing transferred the copyright for these designs, they remain yours.
This is one of those points that comes up quite frequently in the field of identity design, and I’ve more than once run into clients who wondered why I insisted that they must accept and sign a written transfer of my copyright to them, when I’ve created a logo. Savvier clients make sure that’s in the contract before we start.