Transfer Pricing Associates

Judicial Fight Surrounding the Oktoberfest Logo

post Wednesday September 5, 2012


Adam D’Addario, formerly a graphic designer at Yuengling, is currently suing the beer producer for allegedly using the logo he specifically designed for their Oktoberfest beer brand, without being paid for it or transferring his rights.

Yuengling, the oldest beer brewery in the United States, was founded in 1829 by the German, David Gottlob Jungling. D’Addario worked at Yuengling on a freelance basis for 20 years from 1990 to 2010.  During his employment, D’Addario was in charge of the label design until they replaced him with an in-house graphic designer. Before his departure, D’Addario designed the Oktoberfest brand logo and offered it to the company but did not receive compensation.  

D’Addario  is asking for a €200,000 for the work done and damage caused. He is also asking the company to cease use of the logo as he had never transferred his rights to the company.

This case is similar to many issues that companies can encounter with freelance and contract employees. While in this case the designer is arguing that payment was never received, companies will frequently argue that after payment for a product, in this case a logo, is received, the company retains ownership and distribution rights. In these types of cases, it is imperative that both the company and the author review the contracts involved and include a clause that would identify the issue of ownership rights.

In this case, attorneys will likely argue the issue of past precedent in work with the author and award claims based on his previous payment and contractual obligations. Specifically, if he previously transferred ownership upon receipt of payment, it is unlikely that a cease and desist order will be issued.

These issues often plague companies and their freelance employees, but due to the resources available, companies frequently manage to “get their way” more often. This is a case where a simple review of contracts would do much to alleviate the costs of a lawsuit.

Source: Novagraaf

Image source: Beer Street Journal

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