Luxgraphicus Design Agency

Putting a price on intellectual property of design?

You need more than a handshake.

How would you pay for the intellectual property of your business?

Specifically, the visual material which forms a vital part of the intellectual collateral associated with your business.

I’m not going to tell you the best way, or the cheapest way, or even my opinion here. I’m going to pose the question and provide some alternatives, then let you decide, or at least think about, the answers. Of course, if you’d like to discuss your ideas I’d love you to contribute to the blog here with comments and questions.

As designers, we’re creating intellectual property. But who owns it? Our clients commission us to do it. They pay us. (usually!) It’s created to be used in the operation of the business. But on what basis is it sold to the business? Does the initial fee cover the ownership of the intellectual property? Who owns copyright? Who has license to use the material?

Most of these are legal issues of course, which is not my area of speciality, although I do have some knowledge of copyright law and its application. I’m not going to dive into the deep waters of the legalities here!

But, as the owner of a design business, I am interested in how other business owners would be prepared to pay for the material created.

Recently I’ve been working on several approaches to licensing and payment for branding and identity projects. How would you be prepared to pay for the intellectual property which is so important to your business?

Here are some options;

Pay an upfront fee for the design work, and a license to use the work for the intended purpose. (later negotiation required for use beyond the original scope)

Pay a lesser upfront fee for the design work, with an ongoing (monthly or quarterly) fee for the license to use the work. (with outright transfer of the copyright after a negotiated period)

Pay a lesser upfront fee for the design work, with an ongoing premium on subsequent use of the work in designed and/or printed material. (with outright transfer of the copyright after a negotiated value of work completed)

Pay a greater upfront fee for the design work and full copyright ownership of the work. (no further negotiation required)

All have their strengths and weaknesses. There are, no doubt, alternatives too. As well as analogies from other industries.

As the owner of a design business I have my own preferred options, and as an innovator and entrepreneur, I can offer business owners added value through additional services within the licensing options, but which would the market support? (I’ll fill you in on the added value bits in subsequent posts!)

So which would you, as a small business owner or operator, be prepared to accept, to secure the intellectual property of your business?

Over to you…


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What order your design?

the best small businesses are watching their branding

If you are beginning a new business venture, or new marketing push in an existing business, which requires collateral for its delivery, you’re probably going to need something designed to do it well.

Maybe its business cards, or marketing postcards. Perhaps fliers or brochures, menus or signs. You’ve probably decided a website is on the list. Your emails should have header and /or footer graphics too. Letterheads or invoices should carry the right look as well.

You’ll probably have at least a few of these things on your list, if not all, and perhaps several others which I haven’t included.

So which do you have designed and created first? With a limited budget there may be a need to stage or progressively produce them. What order is best?

Something was missing from the list above, did you spot it?

A designer will need to create this first, and most critical of pieces, before they can realistically think about all the others. Without this key element, all the others will lack cohesion and direction. The impact and recognition on their important viewers, your customers and clients, will be lost. Your vital marketing message will be diluted, possibly washed away all together.

The vital piece? Your business visual identity.

Without the set of rules and standards developed as a part of your identity, all subsequent collateral will be floundering. Sure, the identity will include a logo, but also the colours, typestyles, spaces and iconic appearance and feel which will represent your business. Rules will be established around which the rest of your critical business collateral can be developed.

With this development, the resultant material becomes a valuable component of the intellectual property of your business. Not something to enter into lightly.

This identity can, on initial inspection, appear to have a somewhat intangible nature. But consider the value and significance of all that it will influence and control, and you can begin to appreciate its ultimate value.

Be sure to give this value the respect it deserves, get the order of your design right, and devote appropriate time and resources to a most valuable component of your business.

The best small businesses are watching their brand, and they are designing it first.