Ownership of Design Rights When Freelancing - UK

Long story short; in June I was made redundant and rehired straight away to do exactly the same job on a freelance basis. I have never been given a contract and have had real problems in getting paid on time (blood from stone springs to mind). With regards to the design rights of the project that I am working on does the lack of any contract stipulating otherwise mean that I am the sole owner of the design? If this is the case should I use this as a bargaining tool when trying to secure payment?

are you doing the work using your own equipment, in your own space… or are you a contract employee onsite? depending on your situation will define the answer…

Thank you for the response, I’m working from home and just going into the office for occasional meetings.

I would certainly get a contract in place ASAP.

Generally, this might say that you own all IP until the work is paid, upon which it belongs to the paying company.

Thank you for the responses. I mentioned the issue of rights ownership to the client and that it would be useful to have a contract to make this clear. I was told that they do not have contracts with any of their off site design resource. I have now been asked to submit standard views of the product for use in the design registration documents (I don’t think the person that rang me was supposed to say what they were for though). I assume that these two things are linked. I am going to ask for written confirmation that I own the IP until the project has been completed and I have been paid in full before submitting anything. Is there anything else that I should do?

When asking for written confirmation that you own the IP until the project has been completed and you have been paid in full, I would add that this is the general system freelance designers work under, and doesn’t actually change your relationship, just allows you both to clearly understand where you both stand.

If you’re freelance and there’s no contract, you own the design rights. You should be signing and dating your designs.

How do I know this for sure? I did a small project for a UK client without a contract. The designs were knocked off by a market competitor so they took them to court - in order to do this they asked me to sign paperwork passing the design rights for this shoe over to them, which I willingly did.

But yeah, try to get it in a contract and I will try to practise what I preach! And when I do use my contract - I get the client to agree to whether I can use their work in my portfolio, post it online, and when I can do this (say when the product is at retail).

The above client works in a very competitive marketplace (hence the court case) and we have an agreement that I don’t disclose the work, nor that I work for them.