IfI was working with an artist to design T-shirt art for me, what are my rights if he took the designs to use in his own business?

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IfI was working with an artist to design T-shirt art for me, what are my rights if he took the designs to use in his own business?

I don’t have a license yet or trademark but I was working with an artist who designs lots of art for me for T-shirts. I have whole sellers and people lined up to get this business started. I have put lots of money in the business, then out of no where he decides that he is going to take his designs and sell then in his own business. Is there anything I can do?

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Business Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Do you have a contract with the artist that I presume you are paying money to for doing the work on the T -shirt design? If you do, does it state that you and not the artist ends up owning the design that you are paying him to make for you on the shirt?

If it does not, you need to have a written contract signed by you and the artist stating that you own the desing that you are paying to have created. It makes no sense to pay someone to create a design for you and you have no written agreement showing ownership rights. 

If the design has not been completed and full payment made to the artist for services, now is the time to get the suggested agreement regarding ownership rights signed and dated.

If the artist has taken the designs to use for his own business that you paid for, you do have a claim that he took your property and he will need to cease using your t-shirt design if you are unwilling to give permission for the use.


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