In the branded merchandise world, shops often juggle multiple jobs, each with their own requirements. Some jobs include an additional layer of complication: copyrighted logos and trademarks.

It might be tempting to skip the formalities and jump straight into production, especially if your customer has a large order. But, doing so may expose your business to legal pitfalls that can lead to costly disputes. In the world of intellectual property rights, law firms and their clients actively seek infringement cases. If, for example, a print shop mistakenly uses a copyrighted logo or branding (e.g., the Nike “Swoosh” or the Tesla “T”) without proper authorization, they may become vulnerable to such legal actions. A simple oversight or misunderstanding can lead to legal threats, cease-and-desist orders, or lawsuits. The time and money spent battling these disputes can significantly impact a shop’s business and damage its reputation. 

To protect your business and your customers’ intellectual property, you should consider engaging a lawyer to develop a procedure anytime you receive a new order that may involve intellectual property rights.

Benefits of Using Copyright and Trademark Release Agreements

A Copyright and Trademark Release Agreement is a legally binding contract, in this case, often between a business and its client. It serves as clear and explicit permission from the client, granting the business the right to use the client’s copyrighted logos, branding elements, and trademarks on various merchandise and promotional products.

By obtaining this agreement before starting production, your shop can better protect against infringing upon the client’s intellectual property rights. This proactive approach can save you from legal battles, financial damages, and reputational harm.

  • Legal Clarity: A well-drafted agreement outlines the scope of use, duration, and purpose for which the copyrighted material and trademarks can be used. This agreement ensures both parties are on the same page and reduces the risk of misunderstandings.
  • Risk Mitigation: You can avoid legal actions by securing explicit permission. 
  • Trust and Professionalism: A formal agreement demonstrates professionalism, due diligence, and commitment to ethical business practices. Most of your customers will appreciate that thoroughness and transparency. 
  • Long-Term Relationships: Like trust and professionalism, customers are more likely to return for future projects when they know their intellectual property is safeguarded.

NOTE: To ensure your approach and agreement best serves your situation, we strongly recommend obtaining legal counsel.

Download your copy of an agreement template here