Contractual Matters: Rejected Ideas

Posted By Debbie on October 28, 2010

(Back to our series on contracts…) 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 showed this potential client had a section that said that we will show him a number of design ideas. We are ultimately selling him one idea, revised and tweaked until he’s thrilled and approves it. He is buying this one idea off of us, and we give him all the rights he could possibly ever want to that one idea. Any ideas that he rejects or does not specifically approve stay as our property. They would be ours, and we can sell them to somebody else, do nothing with them, etc… Anything he doesn’t want is ours.

The Solution: He told me he wants to own every idea we show him. I told him that would be fine. We’ll come up with a price for ideas he sees that he wants to own, but are never revised, tweaked, or carried to completion.

The Discussion: He told me that he will not pay for additional ideas. Every design idea we show him should automatically be his exclusive property, and we would have no rights to it.

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.