Vancouver, WA asked in Intellectual Property for Washington

Q: If I created a logo for a business with the promise of payment and didn't receive payment, who has copyright?

My husband started a business in OR with partner, they had me work on website, logo, etc. Now. Husband has left the business after 3 months and I never got paid for my work. The redemption was signed and didn't include my fees, but I was under the impression that I would get paid. Two months later, the partner is still using the logo I created and is filing legal paperwork for the website and all intellectual property. Again, none of this has been paid for. Is there anything I can do? There is no contract in place. Who owns the website, which is registered under my name, and who owns the copyright to the logo and design work?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Marjorie Simmons
Marjorie Simmons
  • Burlington, WA
  • Licensed in Washington

A: A work can be "made for hire" under some circumstances, and in those circumstances, the person who hired the work can be the work's owner. If there was any understanding that the work (logo & site) was to be paid for in order to be used, then you can stop the person from using your work until it has been paid for. To do this can be time-consuming and if you have to bring an injunction, it can be expensive. Did you register you work with the US Copyright Office? You said the website is registered in your name -- is that because you paid the registration fee, or because you control the site as well as the domain name? I suggest you first send a bill for the work, due on receipt. If the bill goes unpaid for more than a month or is rejected, then you'll want to speak to an attorney. Do not automatically pay to renew the domain registration (unless you are bound to do so by contract, and if so consult an attorney first). Make a list of all your costs (with receipts), locate any emails or other writings that refer to the work, and have these ready when you visit an attorney. You can also object to any trademark application made with your unreimbursed work as well, but the process is complex and you should have an attorney for that.

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