At Lawpoint, we don’t like to scaremonger people into thinking they need a contract. But if you create anything (e.g. copy, designs, layouts, code, logo etc), we really do think you need to understand intellectual property rights and the implications of not having a contract in place. This is why we have created a number of blawgs on the subject and really can’t stress the point enough!

Whenever working with a client (where you create deliverables for the client) or a freelancer (where they create deliverables for you/ your client) you should have an understanding of:
• What intellectual property rights will exist in the deliverable? (E.g. copyright, trade mark, design right)
• Who owns the rights in the deliverable?
• How can you own them (and do you really need to)?
• Can you licence or assign the rights to your client?

There are different rules depending on the type of intellectual property right in question, including:
• whether the right exists automatically or needs to be registered to benefit from protection
• how long the right lasts
• most importantly who the owner of the deliverable is.

For automatic rights such as copyright, the owner will be whoever created the deliverable even if they were commissioned by someone else! See “I own what I pay for. Right?

This is why we consider that if you use a freelancer, having a contract between you and the freelancer is possibly more important than a contract between you and the client – you need to ensure you own the right before you can allow someone else to use it! Moreover, if you’re an IT business intellectual property will likely be a key asset (e.g code) and so you will want to maximise its value.

See “Silence is Golden (or is it?)” for more information on how it may depend on where you are in the chain and the legal effect of your intellectual property rights.

If you use freelancers and haven’t got a contract in place, don’t be too hard on yourself as our blawg “Don’t learn the hard way!” shows that even companies as big as Innocent got things wrong.

We offer fixed price contracts including:
Freelancer agreements (between you and the freelancer) – £550 + VAT
Digital T&Cs (between you and your client) – £950 + VAT or a “leg up” price of £550 + VAT if you’ve been registered for less than a year)

It’s not just intellectual property protection rights that can be puzzling to business owners – if you work within the digital industry come along to our Digital Law Scrum and… Bacon. Here we will work with you to piece together how the law fits within your business. For more information click here

For more information on intellectual property, our Director and co-founder, Tracey O’Connell has co-authored a book that discusses these issues – see The Collaboration Game.