I am interested in getting some opinions about a marketing/ethics issue concerning the use of material that was created when a design professional worked for previous employers.
Let`s say that I am a graphics designer. For the first five years of my career, I worked for Acme Graphic Design company. During this time, I was personally responsible for the creation of dozens of different items, including logos, packaging designs, and other promotional items.
I then leave Acme and start my own graphics design business, called Mike`s Graphics. I create a web site and provide an on-line portfolio of my past work. Naturally, the majority of my portfolio consists of work that was created when I was at Acme, because to date, this represents the bulk of my past experience.
My questions are:
1) Is it ethical to post samples of past work I did while I was at Acme? Do I need to get Acme`s permission to do this? (Now that I am a competitor they may have little reason to cooperate with me.)
2) What if Acme`s clients see samples of their work on my website? They may remember that they used Acme to do some design work, but may not remember the name of the specific designer that worked on the project. They have never had a relationship with my company, Mikes Graphics. Should I have obtained the client`s permission prior to posting their material on my web site? Can the client legitimately ask that I remove their material from my site?
3) Not every piece of design work may actually be used by a client. If I designed a logo for a product, and the product was never released to the public, would it still be OK to have this logo in my portfolio, or would this be a breech of client confidentiality?
Michael A. Silva