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Website Design Agreement 101: IP Fundamentals

website designe agreement

When you’re a website designer, there are some important intellectual property (IP) ownership details you need to make sure are included in your contract with the client.

Most designers focus on big picture issues like payment terms, milestones, etc. And that’s certainly essential for site design and other business contracts.

However, IP ownership is often skipped. And that can lead to lawsuits because the client mistakenly believes they own something they don’t.

For example, let’s say you’ve created templates from which you start site design projects. And you recycle them on multiple projects for different clients.

Now most clients won’t know this is happening and will think they own everything you’ve created.

That’s why it’s important to clearly state in the website design agreement who owns what. This includes licensing provisions for the IP you intend to retain for yourself but will let the client use as part of the site.

There’s also the issue of third-party IP that you use for site design. For example, WordPress themes, plugins, stock photos and icons, etc.

Because you don’t own this IP to begin with, you obviously can’t transfer ownership of it to the client. So it’s important that your site design contract identify this third-party IP and tell the client exactly what rights the client has to use this IP owned by third parties. For instance, some of the IP may be subject to a open source license.

Although less common, there may be situations where you use public domain code, images, etc. on a site. The website design agreement should cover this issue too so the client doesn’t mistakenly believe they own something that’s in the public domain.

If you need a new website design agreement to use with clients or have an existing contract revised, it’s probably time to schedule a phone consultation with Business Website Lawyer Mike Young.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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