Who owns the rights to our work when we leave an organisation?


#1

Guys, I have a quick question.

I’ve been employed with an ‘employment contract’ (as it is called in Polish law) as a UX Designer.
One of my first tasks was to create a logo(sic!) for the company. I created three logos, all of them different, out of which The Boss chose one and we went with it. It’s been public for a while now.

Anyways, I’m leaving the company soon and I was asked for the previous versions of the logo. I mean… I know I did this while working for them but I still think this is my intellectual property as it was not used by them. I’m not sure what I should tell them or do with the logos. Who is the legitimate owner of them? Can you please advise?


Designer's Exploitation
#2

@mag_sobieszuk
it’s not my cup of tea, but I can tell you that on my contract is written that all the deliverables I deliver within the company environment for internal and external purposes are owned by the company I work for.

If is not explicitly written then there’s room fro discussion.

The question is more, what is the plan with those logos (you don’t have to tell me)?
Is it worth to open a discussion and maybe leave the company with hard feelings for something that could be not re-used?


#3

Well, I don’t see the reason for them to use them. I mean, they already have a logo and if they want to have these ones it’s just to spite me. They would be acting like a dog in the manger. Anyways, I deleted the source files long ago, when they decided for one. I just didn’t think it would be useful. That’s one thing. The other one is… when I was in the recruitment process, they asked me to do an exercise, which was to create a logo. I did it, I sent it to them, they hired me. One of the logos I worked on was exactly the one I made up during the recruitment process. I just developed it while working at the company. The third one was crap so I don’t care aout it.

The contract contains this excerpt: “The EMPLOYEE shall give at the EMPLOYER’s disposal all the results of his professional work and qualifications as well as the remarks he made and the experience he gained when fulfilling his duties.”

They’re not being difficult about it just now, but I still have three days to work here and I’m just afraid that The Boss will eventually decide he wants them back, or whatever (he’s not very consistent in his statements).


#4

looking at the excerpt, it’s fairly clear that any work you completed for the company during the period in which you were employed by them belongs to the company. I’d say just give it to them. If you deleted the source file, then maybe they store backups? If they don’t then I’m not sure what they can do if you don’t have the files?


#5

But what about the logo that I actually created while NOT being employed by them, but which I just polished while working for them, which they DID NOT use anyway?


#6

I’ve been thinking how to respond to you for a while now. My answer is a bit all over the place. Take it in bits and pieces if you need to.

First, take a deep breath. You’ve had a rough time with these folks and I think you’re emotionally invested in the outcome, whatever that may come to be.

I echo @dopamino - What is your plan for these logos? Again, you don’t have to say, but it’s good for you to have a clear idea of what you want to happen with them, and with you. Are you worried, since you deleted the source files, that you’ll have trouble with the company?



I don’t understand what is written in your contract. How are you supposed to give your employer the experience you gained when fulfilling your duties?



If you really want to know, you’re going to need a lawyer. If the lawyer says that the logos are your property and the company insists that the logos are theirs, are you prepared to go to court over this? Not only financially, but personally and perhaps professionally. It sounds like you are not parting on the best of terms. Is this a battle you really need to choose?



Honestly, this is the statement that worries me the most. I fear that you are seeing potential spite where none may exist and that you are approaching the situation with turbulent emotions, rather than cool headed thinking.

Oh, the stories I could tell about my last boss! I still struggle with bitterness. I worked for him on a social network that I still use, and the urge to rip him apart was strong for a long, long time.

Each time I start to brood about it, even after years have passed, I remind myself that my former boss probably doesn’t even spare me a passing thought. And that’s not a bad thing. It means that, when it comes time to ask him for a reference, he won’t have any negative emotions associated with me.

I know you only have a couple of days left, so finally, I’m on to my advice. In the years to come, you may look back on this decision with regret. Choices are like that. Which choice will you regret LESS in five or ten years? Choose that one.

I hope that wasn’t too convoluted to understand.

I have faith in you and I want the best for you. You will survive this. I just know it.


#7

If you created them while they were paying you (i.e. you created them on their time) then they own them I’m afraid.


#8

Actually @Piper_Wilson I think that is one of the most grounded, reasonable and supportive examples of advice giving I’ve seen in years.

@mag_sobieszuk I think you’re amazing - you’re getting out of a job that isn’t right for you and you got that new offer so quickly! I get why you seem frustrated and stressed and it’s important that you remember this all comes down a question of property ownership. Use of or lack thereof does not mean anything in regards to ownership. Regardless of how shitty it feels and regardless of whether they did or did not use or ever will in the future, based on the excerpt you provided, it’s their property. You were paid for your time and your effort and they got your work in return.

Like everyone else, I am also wondering what the plan is here?

Same and agreed.


#9

I’ve a question for you. Why are you designing a logo? Isn’t role of graphic designer?


#10

Guys!

Thank you a thousand times for your support! You are amazing!

However, the situation is not as bas as it sounds!! I am a bit worried what might happen since I don’t have the source files. I got attached to these pieces of work a little bit but not that much. My only concern is that I don’t want to part with them on bad terms and I’m exploring ways of defending myself in case they want to make a fuss about these logos.

My plan now is to try to find the source files. I sometimes back them up in random places.

But this thread got me thinking… If one of the logos I created while NOT being employed by them, but which was just polished during my ‘tenure’ - who has rights to it?
l’m not going to pursue any legal actions, but if there is a slight chance I might at least keep one of those logos, I want to.

@dotafxoc that’s a very good question. For the past month, for example, I was writing html and css of the emails they wan to send to clients. I really appreciate the opportunity they gave my but I was doing everything but UX at the company. That’s why i decided to leave.


#11

Ah I see. Have they brought it up with you? They may have forgotten about it!

See what you can do but don’t feel bad or stress if you can’t find them.

It depends. Just so I’m understanding this correctly: did you submit this pre-tenure created logo as part of your work on a project for them? Did you refine it while on the job with them and during hours that you got paid for?


#12

It depends. Just so I’m understanding this correctly: did you submit this pre-tenure created logo as part of your work on a project for them? Did you refine it while on the job with them and during hours that you got paid for?

I created it as a part of recruitment process assignment and refined it during my work for them. The changes included most of all the change of solid color to gradient. I stoipped working on it as soon as they decided for the other one.


#13

Hmmmm… was the recruitment process assignment for them or another employer?


#14

Them


#15

I understand, neither html and css is your role. I face similar issues too but my manager knows my work so it’s okay.


#16

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m inclined to think it belongs to them because you submitted it to them as a bespoke piece for an exercise they set, got hired because of it, and then continued to work on it as part of your paid role with them. It sounds like it was theirs from the beginning. My thinking is, if it was a piece that was in your portfolio and had been created solely for the purpose of showing your skills and wasn’t created for a previous employer etc and they saw it, liked it and asked for something similar, it would be a lot murkier but the case that we’ve just talked through seems to be a lot clearer.


#17

I agree. She’s gold.


#18

It was tough to part with my work, but I came to terms with it :slight_smile:

The most important thing now is that I’m at a new job, where I will be able to learn from experienced people :slight_smile:
Sooo excited!

Thank you all again for the advice and support and all the kind words.


#19

What you doing at new job?


#20

For now, learning the product. It’s pretty complicated so I guess it’s gonna take time. And in the mean time I keep feeling intimidated by the Senior UX Designer who works there and is the same age as me and has massive knowledge.