Licensing Issues with Logos

By Janelle Harris


Logos are undeniably essential to any business. It’s the symbol that represents your brand. What if you’re starting a new business, or you’re just sick of the logo you’ve been using for years? Where do you start, and what future legal issues should you be thoughtful of preventing?

As an agency that has worked with hundreds of businesses over the years, we’ve seen it all when it comes to logo design projects. We want to make sure that your business’ brand is safe and that you’re equipped with the information you need.

We know the drill… you’re scrolling through Pinterest to look for ideas and you find the PERFECT logo! The company currently using it is in a state 12 hours away, so they’re not competing for your business. You right click, save it, slap it on a business card and you’re good to go, right?! Not so fast! If you use an image like this, you may run into several problems with quality, color and scalability, but most significantly, you’re opening yourself up for a big lawsuit. Someone else has paid to have that logo designed, uniquely, for their company and you don’t have permission to use it. What’s more, if you have put that logo on a sign on your building, your website, your company vehicles, etc, you’ll have to have those elements removed or redesigned with a new logo.

When having a logo designed, it’s important to collaborate with professional designers that are able to build you a high-quality design from scratch. Be sure to check any design contract to ensure you’re aware of who owns the imagery. At Imagemark, we always strive for a fully custom logo design that is owned completely by you.

When designing your logo, if you choose to incorporate a stock image or illustration from another source, check your licensing agreement. Do you need an exclusive rights license or an expanded license for commercial/merchandising use? If you have concerns about anyone else potentially using your logo in the future and would like legal protections, take the extra step to go through the trademarking process with an intellectual property lawyer.

Once that logo is designed, approved and delivered to you, it is yours to use! Save yourself and your business the headache and financial hardship, and get a logo designed that is one of a kind, just like your business!

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Janelle Harris

About the author

Janelle is a photographer, designer, illustrator and artist with a lifetime of creative experience in numerous mediums and fields. She specializes in photography, logo design, branding, and graphic illustration; as well as copywriting and print design. Her favorite part of her job is creating beautiful imagery and graphics that clients love.