If I created a cartoon character at work for a possible design concept, do I have full rights to my artwork or does the company I work for have them?

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If I created a cartoon character at work for a possible design concept, do I have full rights to my artwork or does the company I work for have them?

A couple of weeks ago, I created a cartoon character at work for a possible design concept. I work for a sticker company but they have not yet decided if they want to use my design. I would like to take the character further and pitch it to television networks for a possible cartoon show. I have asked permission from my company to go forward with this but they have not gotten back to me. I have never signed a contract rescinding any rights to my artwork. Do I have full rights to my design even though I created them “on the clock”?

Asked on April 4, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Nebraska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you have no rights to this character. You created the character at work, for your employer, as part of your employment; it therefore belongs to the employer. Any original, graphic, creative, etc. works created by an employer during his/her employment belongs to his/her employer; you can think of it this way, the employer paid for the rights to the character you created during your employment by paying your wage/salary and any benefits you receive as an employee.


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