Can You Get Royalties on a Logo You Made?

Logo designers rarely consider copyright when working for their clients. However, it can determine how much you will get paid for your work. For instance, understanding logo copyright laws will help know if you can get royalties for your work.

Generally, you cannot get royalties for the logos you make as they are the properties of your clients. However, there are certain cases where you can earn royalties, depending on how you structure your contracts. Even then, your rights might be limited under most jurisdictions.

Your royalties ultimately depend on who owns your work, Therefore, by reading further, you will learn how to formally register a copyright for your logos if your clients allow it.

Can Logo Designers Claim Royalties for their Work?

Graphics designers often overlook copyright during contract negotiations with clients, especially when the order includes logos and other banded content. They presume that they own the pieces enough to get royalties for their work. However, they fail to see the fine print of their contracts and find themselves in legal nightmares.

It does not have to be this way. Most designers already understand that their customers receive full ownership of the logos and their designs once they finish paying for them. Problems happen when the designers cannot or will not transfer over the ownership of their work. The reasons are as varied as the designers themselves, causing very challenging situations for the designers and their customers.

Legally, the situation is much clearer. Your client must acquire the ownership of the design and not just the permission to use it. If your client does not do this, then you retain full ownership until all the criteria for the transfer are met. These terms are normally dictated by your contract. Otherwise, they default to your local copyright laws or your marketplace’s site use terms, such as the ones at PlaceIt which are all fully commercially usable.

 So, theoretically, you could expect to receive royalties for the logos you make. You just need to make sure that your contract specifically said that you maintain ownership of the design.

Logo Ownership is the Key

Because everything relies on who owns the copyright, you must understand how ownership works for contracted content. It works slightly differently than the art you do for yourself. As such, your clients will seek one of the following end-ownership states:

  • Right to use: Your customers need the right to use their logo. It is their emblem, the face of their brand.  That is why they hired you. They want full ownership so they can use the logo as they see fit without infringing any trademarks.
  • Copyright ownership: But they also want to protect their intellectual property. Without full ownership, someone else could use infringe on their brand. Most local intellectual property and patent registries also require proof of full ownership.
  • Conflict avoidance: Without clear legal guidelines, you and your clients will likely face long arguments about how and where they can use the logo. This can lead to accusations of fraud, breaches of contract, and the possible loss of your reputation as a professional artist.

As such, most clients will want all legitimate ownership and rights over the logo. That normally creates the most beneficial situation for both parties. Your client gets their logo, and you get a repeat customer when they want to modify it.

When Should Designers Not Transfer Logo Ownership?

While you will want to completely transfer the logo to your customer in most cases, there are times when you should not. Most of these moments happen when your customer fails to provide clear terms and conditions of ownership. You should establish these criteria at the start of the logo design process, and formally define them in a legally acceptable contract.

If no such mutually agreeable contract exists, then you must fall back to your local and federal copyright laws. Generally, that means you retain all copyrights for the logo and its design. Your customer may get a license to use the logo and its design elements, but you keep full control over it. This is usually the agreed route if the clients do not require ownership of the source files.

Ask a Lawyer to Avoid Confusion

If your copyright situation still confuses you, you should seek the advice of a business or copyright attorney. Your lawyer can go over your contract and find potential legal problems before they happen, allowing you to seek better terms and conditions. Your lawyer can also help you obtain a formal copyright registration for the logo design if necessary.


Graphics designers can get royalties for the logos they make in certain situations. The key considerations are the terms and conditions specified in your contracts. If they never require you to transfer full ownership, you are free to ask for continued compensation for the use of the design.