Customers using business card design as logo

Hello everyone,

I’m a freelance graphic designer. I personalize my original design templates and create custom designs for customers. However, I’ve noticed a lot of my customers who do not have a logo will use certain elements of my template designs and more often custom designs as their logo. I include a license agreement upon releasing their files clearly stating none of the design can be used as their logo or for anything other than printing. It’s very upsetting and frustrating. I’m leaning towards not providing files at all and just offer printing my designs with me only to put an end to customers stealing my creations.

Does anyone else deal with this? If so, how do you handle it?

Thanks in advance.

Send em a bill for the additional royalties, and remind them that the art they are lifting for their logo is not proprietary. someone else may use the same art next week to advertise really awful dog food for instance.

I don’t have this problem because I don’t really concern myself with it all that much.

I rarely turn over source files to clients. On those rare occasions when I do, I just assume it’s out of my hands at that point, despite what the law or the contract says. When I design something for someone, if they want to recreate a piece of it to use for something else, well, so be it.

It’s not that don’t care. It’s just that there’s no point in getting upset about it. I take some basic precautions, but I don’t make a big deal about it because, honestly, what is there within reason to do about it in most instances? Sue them for pocket change?

There’s a lady up the street from us who is so concerned about the occasional dog pooping on her lawn that she sits out on her front porch each evening scowling at every dog walker who passes by. My dog’s never pooped on her lawn and I’d pick it up if it did. Even so, she’s yelled at me a couple of times just for good measure.

I don’t want to be the lady up the street who patrols her yard for the rare, occasional dog poop and worries over things with little consequence.

If a paying client uses an element of something I created for them for another purpose, I’m not likely to make an issue of it — either with them or in my own head. It’s not worth it.

Why not sell them a logo as an add-on to the project? Just make sure they understand they won’t have exclusive use of the design.

1 Like

@Malyssajanay Maybe I’m the idiot in the converstation, but what other elements are they using as their logo - is it a placeholder logo you use in mockups?

Sometimes, yes. Majority of the time it’s a part of a custom business card design.

My photo is my business card. So the SD is my business logo. I’ll create a design that takes the place of it with either their name or business name. Sometimes there’s a graphic element added. They’ll use it as their logo.

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I don’t give out my source files. I release a flattened pdf so they can print the design themselves.

What precautions do you take?

I’m not like the dog poop lady, nor do I want to be, lol. But it’s gets to me because I see them using it on social media. I see it as theft.

Send them a jpeg with a watermark on it then.

That’s all I do as well, but I don’t think I’ve ever had what you’re describing happen. If it did, I would not be concerned.

Unlike many other designers, my contract stipulates that I transfer the copyright to the client upon payment in full. If a client wants to use something in that PDF for another purpose and can figure out how to do it, that’s OK with me since they own it.

I’d rather a client return due to me having done a great job with their interests in mind than return because I own rights to their work. For me, it helps keep things simple and, in my opinion, the client really should own the work once they pay for it. Others feel differently, but as I mentioned, it’s worked for me.


Summed up nicely.

What B said.
The only time that gets sticky is if stock assets are used, like Clip Art, which, more often than not, stipulates it cannot be used as a logo.

That looks like a logo to me. You’ve created a distinct identity for the client, but you only want them to use it on their business cards?

@Malyssajanay I found your website and pricing stuff and I think you could be undervaluing your own work. How do you price your jobs?

©2020 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook