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Alex Reese
Alex Reese, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3407
Experience:  Experienced in intellectual property law
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I made some designs shirts with a partner, while testing

Customer Question

I made some designs for t shirts with a partner, while testing the market, we made these designs under my LLC I owned 100%. We are now splitting up, do I still own the copyright to these designs?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 5 months ago.
hello. the copyright is initially owned by the creator/author of the work, and unless the copyright was transferred to the LLC then it is still owned by the creator. If he was a co-creator then he may be a co-owner of the copyright, or if the copyright was transferred/owned by the LLC and he owns a share of the LLC then he would own a portion of everything in the LLC.....but otherwise it sounds like you are the owner.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
We started making these shirts with designs on them, which I created myself since I am a graphic designer by trade. Since we were just trying to see if the idea would work, we initially ran the sales and everything through my LLC that I owned, so that we would not be out money by creating its own LLC if the business failed. We did this from 9/2015 until 12/2015. In January he created an LLC for the company and I took a backseat from 50% to 25% ownership. He has since continued to sell those shirts with my designs, but now I want out completely and I want to take my designs with me. From what I understand I am still the creator, we were not taking draws from the LLC for any of the shirt sales, and I have not given him explicit permission to use these designs, but I fear for not saying anything before now, this is an implied copyright. This is no business agreement that says anything about the designs.
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 5 months ago.
The key to determining ownership here is for each work (1) who the creator(s) of the work is, and (2) whether copyrights were transferred from the creators to the LLC. If there was no transfer then the ownership of copyrights remains with the creator(s). If you created a design together then you would likely be co-owners of that copyright. Co-owners have the right to commercialize the copyright without permission of the other co-owner, but they may be obligated to may the other owner their share of the proceeds
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
1. The artwork was created by me when we started this company. 2. There is no single document transferring the copyrights anywhere.
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 5 months ago.
In that case it seems you are the copyright owner and can prevent any unauthorized use of your works
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Even though he has been selling these shirts with my artwork with the new LLC the past four months? I didn't mind them using because I was part owner then, but if they are going to make thousands of dollars off my designs, I would like to be compensated for it.
Expert:  Alex Reese replied 5 months ago.
yes, that does not affect copyright ownership. you should enforce your rights asap because if you knowingly allow them to continue then that might affect your rights/remedies.

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