Contractual Matters: Intellectual Property

Posted By Debbie on November 2, 2010

I was recently shown THE most bizarre contract I’ve ever seen. I wanted to share some odd bits from it so that other designers and UI pros can look out for these things when reading a client’s contract. For more posts on contracts, check our blog tag for “contracts.”

The Problem: The contract I was shown would have me assuring that anything I deliver to this client has never been copyrighted or trademarked, in whole or in part, by anybody else.

The Solution: I told him that if he would like to budget for an intellectual property attorney to review every idea, then we need to get that into the budget. We can’t throw that in for free. We always do custom and unique work from scratch, and we don’t copy anybody. We are reasonably sure that our work is unique. But without having a qualified lawyer check into things, I can’t be sure that someone else didn’t have the same idea at some point, and would claim to own that idea.

The Discussion: He told me his clause stays.

I didn’t sign the contract. We won’t be doing business. Read contracts carefully! Sometimes, it’s better to walk away from the work than to sign something you’ll be sorry about later.