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  • Who owns your logo? A question of IP (intellectual property) law not rights

    Posted on March 16, 2015

    Innocent logoImagine briefing a professional design firm to create a brand new logo, you hold many creative and briefing meetings then watch the birth of your new logo. After approving the design work, you pay all of their invoices then spend millions of pound building your business and creating your own brand. Then you find out that you have missed one important step in the process and because of that you do not actually own the copyright to your own logo, not yet anyway. How can this happen?

    The case of Innocent is not unique but is complicated by the payment arrangement which it appears was not completed. It is a very an interesting and costly case and highlights a point of law that many experienced business and marketing people have not fully understood that regardless of payment method that the owner of the copyright for original work created is that creator – not automatically the client, even when fully paid for until ownership has been assigned or transferred over. As an agency we promise to automatically assign the ownership of the design copyright and any intellectual property (IP) rights to our Client upon payment of outstanding invoices – we even state that on our website on the Logo Design page. But not every agency or creative does this so buyer beware. These IP rights have little real value when the company or brand is created but after time and cash investment the brand equity can soar and become real asset value on your balance sheet and this is not the time to start arguing over it’s ownership.

    InnocentRedLogoThe Innocent logo saga starts in 1998 when Fresh Trading owner of fledgling drinks brand Innocent signed a deal with brand design firm Deepend to cover the design costs for it’s new logo via sweat equity instead of cash.  Innovative but not unique the contract stated that Innocent would pay the Deepend 4% of the shares of Fresh Trading, at which point copyright ownership for the logo would transfer to Fresh, but the agreement was never signed. The logo was completed but Fresh never paid Deepend the shares and has continued to use the ‘dude’ logo since. This was a huge failing on both sides and the agency did not pursue the issue until 3 years later and had not been resolved 6 years after that when they went into liquidation in 2009. Impossible to say which side stalled on completing the deal, but a close friend of the Deepend designer who actually created the logo bought the IP from the liquidators for the copyrighted works created for Fresh via a shelf company called Deepend Fresh Recover. The ownership of the logo has been going through the courts ever since, until recently. Importantly how could Fresh have sold it’s Innocent brand without full legal ownership of its own logo together a dispute over its own trademark.

    As recently as November 2012  the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM – the body that oversees trademark registration across the EU) sided with Deepend Fresh Recover  ruling that they owned the copyright, not Innocent.  But last month Innocent was finally found innocent of copyright infringement over the historical use of its ‘dude’ logo, with the High Court judgement that overturns the previous decision that Fresh Trading owns the haloed-fruit icon. When innocent had not paid for the logo it seems an odd ruling. So who wins, the side with the deepest pockets?

    The saga harks back to 1998, when Innocent owner Fresh was set up and hired a design agency called Deepend to create a logo for Innocent. While the originators Deepend and Fresh both agreed via a “heads of terms” agreement that the agency would be paid 4% in Fresh shares, at which stage copyright for the logo would transfer to Fresh, the agreement was never signed. Fresh never paid Deepend the shares but has continued to use the ‘dude’ logo since.  According to Richard Kempner of law firm Kempner & Partners, which represented Deepend Fresh during the most recent, High Court, case, “clause 5 of the agreement said that copyright would belong to Deepend until Fresh approved the work”, with the law firm arguing that clause 5 was “clearly intended to be conditional on clause 4″ (i.e. payment). Deepend Fresh successfully brought proceedings before OHIM, which declared Fresh’s community trademark registration of the ‘dude’ logo invalid. But at the trial the judge decided that “these were separate, non-conditional obligations.”

    Deepend Fresh will no longer pursue the issue. Kempner said that there was an important lesson for branding and marketing agencies. “What the outcome of this case highlights is that people need to be careful in structuring contracts in very precise terms, and it’s a devastating case for designers who think they’re protecting their right to be paid. I think it shows that sometimes there can be a difference between law and (at least my view of) justice, because there might be a case for saying that Innocent got something for nothing here.”

    Was it worth years of legal disputes? Innocent have remained silent on the issue but must be pleased and relieved. To read more go to the Marketing Magazine website.

    No comment has been made by Innocent on this case.   In February 2013 Coca-Cola increased their company stake to over 90%. The Innocent logos here are freely available on the company website here >


  • Get responsive – Google announces ‘mobile-friendliness ranking’ signal boost deadline

    Posted on March 2, 2015

    We are all aware of the impact that mobile devices (mobiles, tablets and even wearables) have on website usage, especially when we view our own webstats. Now it is official that Google are putting more emphasis on mobile friendly or responsive websites in this rare announcement ‘expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal’ and they have even given a deadline of 21st April 2015.

    girls use an ipadThis has long been suspected amongst SEO specialists and bloggers but now it is official Google practice, its a fact as well as being good business practice. So you had better adapt or risk losing search results rankings and subsequent site traffic if your website is not mobile friendly or better still fully responsive assuming you have not already done so. Read the full announcement made on Google Webmaster Central Blog here. This is not just about smartphone and iPhone use, it also covers iPads and other tablets, so read on and it is not just mobile search it will affect search results across the board.

    PadsPlusHandswithArrowsResponsive Website Design (RWD) is more than just a web design trend, it is fast becoming a web design requirement, pretty high up the must have check list, especially after 21st April. By the end of 2015 it is estimated that desktop viewers will become make up less that 50% of site visitor stats.  But we are not talking about mobile websites, these tend to work at the lowest common denominator level and in many cases are being left behind as the experience is a far cry from the desktop site.

    So what is RWD? Responsive web design is about crafting sites displaying with optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices without forgetting that we are designing for people not their devices.  So in short images and text content scale to fit the window, controlled by inserting spacers as breakpoint to ensure that the site is displayed in its best form automatically. So as long as the site is set out in a sensitive way the user can view with the least obstacles. Designing responsively does away with the need to create a separate mobile site, It provides users with a seamless brand experience across devices and gives them access no matter how they access your site.

    Screenshot_2015-03-02-12-26-26View on your mobile. We have given emphasises to displaying; our branding, contact info, the menu then the text followed by the images.  You can see how it reforms to portrait or landscape use and importantly – It can decrease loading times of user requested content.  Like many RWD websites is not a wonderful user experience – with such reduced smartphone on-screen real estate (display area space), but is a serious improvement without the users need to pinch and expand the page resizes to best display the page. So why are people visiting your website is it for the same reasons that you want them to visit, are they going to the pages that you desire? At least being fully responsive and checking your webstats will give you some indication if your inbound enquiries and orders do not. And lets face it anything that can enhance the users experience has to be worth of consideration in web development. Its time to stop obsessing about the ‘fold’ as mobile users have no problem scrolling down the page to find the content they want as a swipe is faster than a scroll. But remember that RWD is a user experience tool and SEO tactic, not a replacement for strategy.

    Text Screenshot landscape formatIf your website is WordPress you can ask us to reformat it quite easily and while this will help make your website as future friendly as possible when converting your website to a responsive site it’s a good opportunity to rethink the content from a users perspective. We would urge you to look at your website and your webstats as part of this process. Remember that while you are improving the presentation people don’t want to read screeds of text on a mobile, ever and Cookie Consent or T&C’s tick boxes can be hard to find if care is not taken especially if these block access to pages or contact or ordering.

    Google Developer Mobile Emulation Tools screenshotBeing seen on a mobile does not necessarily mean that your site is mobile friendly or has been optimised for these devices. With some web skills you can use this useful resource to find out > Device Mode & Mobile Emulation Developer Tools were created by Google Chrome’s tech guys help developers to see how the site performs for almost every screen size out there. Or you can ask around the office or via your colleagues to see a site perform live, always the best test.

    When did you last take a look at your Google Analytics account? Within Audience it you can find a new tab called Mobile which will tell you not just the percentage of mobile users but also which devices they used to access your site, right down to the phone model.

    chart showing Google Analytics Top 12 mobile devicesHere are our stats for the latter part of 2014 and you can see a lot of interesting data here. The number of uses visiting via Apple devices is huge, with an almost equal split between iPhones and iPads. Page views and length of visit (duration) also varies dramatically by phone make and model. Although based on much lower useage It possibly highlighting some issues with the Samsung Galaxy both the III and IV have very few visitors and they spend very little time on the site. So we can now take some action on these points and review and troubleshoot.

    Also instead of just adding pages and content it’s always a good time to take content off if it is not performing or out of date. Your webstats will tell you.

    Further reading:

    Google Webmaster Central Blog 

    Chrome Device Mode & Mobile Emulation Developer Tools

    Wikipedia RWD article

    Brad Frost; Missing the Point post

  • Drummond International website evolution

    Posted on January 15, 2015

    image of Drummond International website homepageThis is the new website that we have just built and launched for consultancy firm Drummond International built with lots of new feature and the content is presented to explain the all that they can do for companies by developing individuals within organisations. But we need to go back a lot further before we get to this point.  We were first appointed by Drummond International in mid 2008 to re-design their very first website. Although they found us on Google it turned out that a few years before we had designed a folder on a pro bona rate for the Skye-based childrens development charity Columba 1400 founded by Norman Drummond as well as having worked on a connected annual report and group brochure. So Village Edinburgh strikes again, search the world wide web for someone located 500 yards away.

    DI home screengrab 04 09 12 miniOn the right you can see the 2008-2014 website. A couple of years later and we were asked to help again by creating branded social media profiles for channels already used and then newly developing SM channels, these included YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ once again Google Analytics data has been useful when evaluating each ones performance in turn.

    Even after many years of working together with them there was the need to submit a competitive tender and sit through an interview process. We happily did this as it was also a useful part of the briefing process, for both sides. It also ensured that our previous knowledge of the Client was updated and any possible assumptions were also corrected, we had to look forward not back. This was helpful to fully discuss advances in the internet and users experiences together with the rise in use of mobile devices, so a fully responsive website was needed. We were also provided with a mood board and a selection of wonderfully atmospheric B+W photographic images. It is rare to get so much information from a Client and does show great vision and organisation.  We did try to add more colour but the photos that that you can see on the site worked best in mono, however worth investigating other routes and visual treatments.  Back in 2008 we had installed Google Analytics onto the old website  and this data was reviewed by the when the new siteplan was prepared. It also provided an invaluable benchmark for the new site.

    Now in late 2014 and the staff of Drummond International felt it was time to completely refresh the company website including the style and page layout. The previous website content updates were done using Adobe Contribute, a very cost effective CMS (content management software as opposed to a bespoke content management system), Naturally it had its limitations but had worked well for 6+ years. With the rapid evolution of WordPress websites and all of the technical and editorial features offered a re-build was the best solution and a future friendly one too. The existing Blog was also WordPress so staff already had a good knowledge of creating and editing web content, another reason to go with a WP for the main site. We advised that the new blog should be integrated onto the website as this would give them better web traffic figures and be easier to encourage Blog viewers to visit main site pages.  It would also be much easier to update and include internal site links if it was one entity.

    screenshot of Drummond International website pageAlso a really nice design feature was suggested by the Client – the dynamic social media buttons, have a look at the mouse-over effect. We might add that feature to our own site the next time we refresh it.

    Websites are never truly finished and regular content reviews are essential, we hope to keep working with Drummond International for a further 6 years an more. Once again we have given our Client the tools to go on and build their brand and promote their services.

    So now if you need to find “an international leadership consultancy who work with some of the world’s most successful organisations to help leaders adapt and achieve in an ever-changing environment” you know where to look >