Licensing Design Templates

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| December 4, 2007

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You asked your legal, copyright, and trademark questions, and Jean has answered! All questions are culled from the comments section attached to the original ‘Ask Jean’ post. We invite you to ask more questions.

Hi Jean,

I have a client that publishes a directory. In the past, the client has sold franchises to private owners who then used me to design and layout the book. Recently, they sold a franchise to a large publisher who can produce the book on its own. My client wants me to give the original files to this franchisee so that it can use them as a template. I have a signed contract from my client stating that I own the rights to these files.

So, what is normally done in a situation like this? How would I go about licensing these files? What would be a reasonable fee?

Drew Taylor

Dear Drew,

You should have an IP lawyer familiar with copyright law prepare a copyright license agreement. The agreement should speak to many issues, including how long the template can used and whether or not it may be sub-licensed.

As for pricing, it’s more an art than a science. The Graphic Artists Guild publishes Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, which include detailed financial information about various types of design projects. I think it is an extremely useful resource, especially when one is trying to determine a fee. Also, think about what you would have made if the franchisee had hired you to do the work, and take into account the fact they will be using your template more than once. Finally, consider the business they’re in and its location. What works in LA or NY may not work in Nashville or Tulsa.

Best,
Jean

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