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Peter.C

Who owns the copyright of a graphical character if it is created before employment but refined and developed during employment?

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If a designer designed a graphical character in its early form, and then joined a company as a shareholder, director, and also receives regular salary from funding as an employee to develop the character's final form, traits, and story. In this case, who would own the copyright of the final form of the graphical character? Would the final form of the character be regarded as work-made-for-hire? 

Thank you very much for your advice.

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1 hour ago, Peter.C said:

In this case, who would own the copyright of the final form of the graphical character? Would the final form of the character be regarded as work-made-for-hire?

 

The information is too limited to permit an informed answer.  You told us that the character was "created before employment," but that's too vague.  You then told us the character was "designed . . . in its early form" before employment.  That's a little less vague, but not much.  Depending on exactly what those things mean, the designer would presumably argue that he/she owns the copyright in the character because it was created before employment.  The employer, on the other hand, might argue any number of things, which aren't possible to predict based on the limited facts given.

 

Needless to say, the designer, as a shareholder and director of what I assume is a corporate employer, should have taken steps protect his/her interests before using a pre-existing character in something done for the employer.  If this is an actual dispute, both sides should consult legal counsel, and the designer should recuse him/herself from any board of directors discussions about it.

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