A designer stole my logo. Help!

Dear Aunty B,


I have just found out that the designer we engaged to develop our logo and other website images “stole” them from another designer.


That designer has just contacted us with proof they designed the images, and wants us to enter into a license agreement. Our arrangements with our designer weren’t very detailed, but their brief does say that they will “design” a logo – not steal one from someone else!


We have been using our logo etc for 18 months and I never thought we would have this problem – I trusted our designer to present original ideas, not copy (exactly!) someone else’s artwork.


I am very disappointed with her dishonesty but am more upset that now I will have to deal with the original designer for the rest of time, every time we want to do something.


What should we do?




Dear Annoyed


Gee. That would annoy any entrepreneur. But before you get too upset, what has your designer said in response to this allegation?  Uncle Z (Paul Zawa, partner at lawyers Minter Ellison) says that copyright protects against the copying of an artistic work, which in this case is a logo. So the first step is for the other designer to demonstrate that the logo was copied.


Theoretically, it is possible that your designer came up with the logo by herself.  That’s not copyright infringement.  Keep in mind, however, that there is such a thing as unconscious infringement.  If it can be demonstrated that your designer had been aware of the other logo, there could be an inference that she has copied it, albeit unconsciously.


My advice is this. If it can be shown that the logo was copied, you can either dump it and get another logo designed (companies do update their logos you know) or accept that you will have to deal with the original designer. I would try and get my money back from your designer though.


And in future here is what you should do; get your designer to warrant that what the designer comes up with doesn’t infringe anyone’s else intellectual property rights.


Good luck!

Your Aunty B.


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