Greeting cards have long been a tradition in the UK. They serve as tangible memories that can remain with you long after the event that they celebrate or the experience that the writer wishes to share and bring the biggest of smiles, or the odd teary eyes, when you open your little box and relive those memories once again. Therefore, it should be no surprise that greeting cards are no joke. It is reported that 76% of adults purchased a greeting card in 2020 and spent a whopping £1.4 billion on single greeting cards in that year. That is despite the pandemic and the ensuing lock down experienced in 2020!
Whilst we are firmly of the view that long may greeting cards prosper, we also believe that the brains behind these cards should be fully rewarded for their efforts. We work with greeting card makers everyday to ensure that their work is protected at every stage of their business and are here to help you should you so require.
So can you protect your greeting cards?
Although in markets such as US, copyright needs to be registered, under UK law, copyright in musical, artistic and literary works is automatically owned by the author of the works as long as they are original, i.e. not copied.
However, things become more complicated when ideas are shared. For example, there is a difference in copyright ownership between commissioning an artist or illustrator for your greeting card and employing an artist to do the same. Whilst you may well own the copyright for the work completed by your employee (to which we stress clear and concise terms relating to intellectual property ownership within the employment contract), you may not own the rights to the work of the illustrator. It is therefore vital to have contracts in place to agree ownership prior to engaging in such activities.
This is not the only consideration that you may need to make. It is also important to think about registering your brand name or logo which can often be so prominent on greeting cards and forms a bond with the consumer market. This is vital to avoid anyone else registering your brand before you and then having the very existence of your business threatened. You may also wish to consider whether your greeting cards are recognised through a specific design unique to you and if so, then whether you can afford for others to use a similar design. If not, as is often the case, then you may need to consider registering a design right for maximum protection.
It is therefore vital that you seek effective legal advice prior to commencing any business ventures. As specialists in this field, we can talk you through the various issues that can arise in the greeting card market and how to avoid time consuming and costly legal issues occurring in the future and threatening your investment and hard work.
Written by Mohammad Khan – Solicitor
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