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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 developing your business and building 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? If it was not assigned to you then it belongs to the creator, 99% of the time. Before you read further consider are you asking who owns the logo design, the trademark or the patents as they are all different things, sticking a (R) or (C) sign on does not actually guarantee you ownership.

    The other 1% is the case of Innocent, it 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 > http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/us/press/photos-and-logos/photos-and-logos/logos

    If you want something designed for you without any IP issues visit our Logo Design page.

    To read how and why Evolution registered our own trademark see this post > Trademarking practicalities

    UK Government IP website: Copyright, patents, designs and trade marks are all types of intellectual property protection. You get some types of protection automatically, others you have to apply for.

    See the 2015 brand value of the Top 100 global brands by Interbrand research

    posted by Neale Gilhooley (updated 18 March 2016)

  • 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 > www.drummondinternational.com

  • Domain name registrations; avoid the cheapest or you could pay later!

    Posted on January 4, 2015

    We have been registering domain names for ourselves and on behalf of Clients for over 15 years. We have found that the best formula is to open an account on behalf of the Client at 123-reg and then the Client has full ownership the domain names; the Clients has full control of the account; the Client has access and control over the company e-mails and the Client pays for all of these at cost price!

    There are more domains now than ever before and it is always worth checking to see if a previously registered URL has been released or if an unavailable domain can now be created and registered at cost price. Great to add to your domain portfolio and also to avoid errors or some sneaky competitors activity.  Start the search process here: Search and register domain names and see what is available.

    Why do we use 123-reg? After years of trying others (and some are quite good) we found that 123-reg offers more than the rest at no extra cost and gives real control to Clients via the Control Panel allowing us and them to do so much ourselves whereas other charge for some of these functions.

    • Price transparency with no sneaky hidden charges
    • No hidden charges to transfer away
    • Plenty of notice of renewals so no unwanted renewal charges, nor losing domains
    • Full access to DNS
    • No late penalty fees
    • No annoying advertising
    • UK based Technical and Account Help function, either by phone of online helper

    They host more than 1.4 million websites and over 2 million domain names – making them the UK’s No 1 hosting company with good UK based technical support. If you have registered your domain name somewhere else you can usually transfer it to 123-reg free of charge. Through 123-reg we offer all that you will need for most websites, including webspace hosting packages, e-mail set up and e-commerce if needed.  If a Client wishes we can also upload sites with other ISP’s such as Lumison, Fasthosts, UK2.net, Zen, Virtualnames and BT Openworld amongst others.  It costs nothing to search, click here. You can also read about the newly created gTLD’s (generic top level domains such as  .apartments .cloud  .credit  .plumber  .finance etc) here and about the new .scot domains too.

    Contact us if you are unsure of which type of domain to register as costs range from £3 to £35 per year and quite a few domains ought to be avoided.