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Intellectual Property Issues in Web Design Contracts

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Lawdit Solicitors - Expert Author

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12 September 2011

Establishing an online presence is essential for most businesses and many will not have the knowledge, skills or resources to create their own websites. Web designers are often commissioned for such purposes and it is vital to ensure safeguards are put in place at the outset to avoid problems arising later.

A business will need to decide prior to entering into a contract whether to insist on the copyright and design rights being assigned to it. Failing to do so will require an appropriate licence to be procured from the web designer which allows the business to make use of the material. A business may also want to ensure that moral rights are assigned to it, thereby preventing the web designer from being credited as the designer of the material appearing on the website, whether written or otherwise.

A business will also benefit from long-term planning and should try to ensure the contract allows for it to gain ownership of the source code making up the website. In practice, web designers will be reluctant to part with ownership of their code, as many will want to use parts of it in other projects, thereby increasing productivity and saving considerable time. Many will be willing to grant a licence for use of the code without actually releasing the source code.

Many businesses would benefit greatly from entering into an escrow agreement, where the source code is deposited with an independent third party (often a solicitor) who will only release it to the business if the web designer is unable or unwilling to fulfil its contractual obligations. Many fail to enter into escrow agreements and this can cause severe problems in maintaining an online presence when the relationship with the web designer has broken down.

Finally, a business should ensure that appropriate privacy policies and terms of use are in place that govern use of the website. These terms and policies will depend on the type of website being developed and its purpose. An experienced web designer will have a good degree of knowledge in this regard, although it is worthwhile taking legal advice to ensure that all data protection and privacy issues are appropriately dealt with.

By Aasim Durrani. Aasim is a legal assistant to Izaz Ali and can be contacted on aasim.durrani@lawdit.co.uk


About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.



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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-10-14 12:52:13 in Legal Articles

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