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F E Smith
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Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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This is a strange question: I created a logo for the school

Customer Question

This is a strange question: I created a logo for the school I was attending as part of a competition quite a few years ago. I never received any money or prize for it, and I'm pretty sure I didn't sign anything to give it to them. Does that mean I technically own and have the copyright for it and do they owe me money for any profit they have made from it since?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 months ago.

It depends on the terms of the competition.

It may have been a term that by entering, you were agreeing to give all rights in the design to the school. You would presumably have had to read the rules and criteria in order to do whatever was required to be done and a positive action (entering the competition) can be seen to be agreement to those rules.

If there wasn’t anything in the competition which said that the intellectual property/copyright belonged to the competition organiser for them to do as they wished, then the copyright and any royalties in respect of use of the design belongs to you.

Copyright and yours for 70 years after your death, for the benefit of you during your life and your estate after your death.

I would be extremely surprised if it wasn’t a term of the competition that they had the rights to any works presented. However, if they didn’t, it’s an oversight on their part and you have the right be paid for whatever money they have made from it. If it’s a school, it’s going to be extremely difficult to quantify any profit they have made just from the logo. The measure of your loss would probably be how much it would cost them to have a logo made on a commercial basis.

Without seeing the rules of the competition that you entered earlier, it’s impossible to advise you further. You may not necessarily have signed anything but may have agreed to the competition rules by the action of entering

Can I clarify anything else for you?

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Best wishes.

FES.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi,Many thanks for your detailed reply.The competition was opened to all the pupils in the school. Every pupil created a new school logo and then they picked a winner, me! I remember being handed a sheet with information about the competition (although I don't have it anymore). As far as I can remember, there were no terms or conditions on it and it didn't state that the rights would be passed over to the school. I only remember it stating the dimensions and how many colours we could use. This was 20 years ago now and I don't think the school was thinking of the legal side of things.Ironically, I have moved into Web Design and Logo Design, so I know how frustrating it is for someone to use (and abuse) someone else's created content!Moving forward, should I send a letter to the school explaining the situation? Should I ask if they have proof of the competition rules? Plus in your answer, you suggest that I might be only entitled to the amount it would've cost them to get the logo created on a commercial basis. Would I not be entitled, even just in part, to the profit they made on every item of school clothing that had my logo on it? This goes beyond just sweatshirts; there's also beanie hats, scarves and fleeces.Many thanks for the help,
Colin
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

In the absence of any documentation, this matter would be decided on the balance of probabilities and the balance of probabilities afraid is likely to be that if they were having a competition, that the logo created would belong to the school otherwise there would be no point in them having it done.

If they bought a logo commercially, which might cost a few hundred pounds, they would be able to use that as they wished and hence, whoever created the logo wouldn’t be entitled to any of the profit on whatever they create.

By all means ask the school for a copy of the competition rules but don’t expect them to have them after 20 years. I think it’s unlikely that any claim would succeed if it got as far as court. Sorry.

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