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I've been following a story out of the University of North Dakota regarding its process of working with SME Branding for its new logo last year. The Grand Forks Herald sought access to SME's unused preliminary designs on the grounds that they should be public record, since they were designed on behalf of a public institution. The state's attorney general disagreed, siding with SME, which argued that the firm could use those designs for future projects and that disclosing them publicly would diminish their value. SME argued, and the attorney general agreed, that they should be protected as a trade secret. Public records issues aside, this made me wonder: How common is it for a designer take a logo created for one client and pitch it to another? Apparently SME's intent, per the Herald story, is to offer up the dozens of designs not chosen to future clients in need of a hawk logo. Here's an interesting bit of analysis from the general counsel for the North Dakota Newspaper Association: “SME made the case that, ‘Well, we’re in effect going to use them again someplace else and we’re going to reuse them, but we don’t want people to know we’re reusing them.’ It’s kind of a funny argument. … In this case, I can see their point.” That makes me wonder: How can UND know whether SME didn't just give them recycled designs, too?