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When clients steal your work

You were asked to pitch on a job and the client said they are asking three designers to pitch and they are all being paid.

Great. Even if you don’t win you have recouped SOME of the cost you put into the pitch.

Clients stealing work

Let’s face it we all tend to put a bit extra in when we are presenting concepts. We analyse the clients customers, we think about their likes and dislikes, we do so research and then we do the design. But not all of that gets covered in most design fees.

But what happens when client gives the job to another designer and you see some of your work reproduced in the new design.

Well here’s the answer in a newsletter from the people at Aspect Legal offering advice on ways to protect your IP in a pitch.

They have looked at the issue of clients taking work you have produced in a pitch, and then using it with another designer.

According to Aspect Legal

The first thing to bear in mind is that copyright (like all intellectual property rights) does not protect ideas themselves. Rather, they protect the form of the ideas.

Given this limitation, it can be quite difficult to protect the “ideas” or “concepts” in your pitch. You do however generally own the copyright in the way you have expressed the pitch (for example in the graphics you have used, or the story board). But where the line is between breach of your copyright while the project is in this early, unfinished phase, is quite grey.

One of the best ways to approach this is with simple straightforward honesty. Have a document in place that you provide to your clients before you give the pitch, or show them the concepts.

Explain (either yourself, or through your document) that you have expended time, money and resources in preparing this proposal for them.  Explain that the work in this pitch is valuable to you, and that it’s really important that they understand that you own and retain the rights in that work, and that they don’t have the right to take your work and use it with another service provider.

Perhaps you could also add that if they like the ideas, but don’t want to use you for the work, you would be happy to discuss a fair deal for them to allow them to purchase the work that you have done to that point.

Use plain English. Use wording that conveys the message with sincerity.

And if you adopt this approach, it is much more likely that they will think twice before doing something behind your back.

Read this plus a host of other good Aspect Legal tips for designers.



Clients stealing designs