Business Contracts

Design-Related Agreements

As with agreements for selling goods or services, there are a variety of design agreements that may be suitable for your particular needs. Certain types of design agreements have a heavy intellectual property focus and further information is available within the Intellectual Property section (which can be found here). From a general business perspective such agreements may include website design, graphic design, professional design services, and product design.

Why have one:

  • You should be clear on what it is being provided, along with a description of the actual services for the project. It is usual for a statement of work to also be produced which sets out: what is to be designed; relevant specifications; and how the service is to be delivered, usually by way of a Service Level Agreement. Additionally, there should be clauses that deal with the use of any third party assisting with the design(s), along with the use of any intellectual property, and any newly created intellectual property in connection with the design services.
  • Copyright, design, employment, and consultancy issues are each very important considerations that should be identified within such agreements as there will be numerous liability, indemnity, and warranty elements to be considered


  • It is very easy to unintentionally use another’s design or copyright and fall victim to copyright infringement. Do not assume that as a customer you will automatically escape liability
  • Ownership of intellectual property should not be assumed, and a written agreement needs to be accurate and unambiguous to clearly identify who owns what. Do not assume that just because you have paid for something that you necessarily own the design, copyright, and other related intellectual property

Who instructs:

Who instructs

I am often instructed by website designers, and product designers who are delivering their specialist services as part of their business to other companies and organisations. In addition, directors and entrepreneurs who wish to receive website design and graphic design services want to be sure the agreement accurately reflects what they believe they are paying for.

Case Study

Most of the issues that arise are in connection with who is actually delivering the design, and whether any freelance consultants are involved; who owns the various intellectual property assets that arise in connection with design services; the scope of the work to be delivered along with milestones; the extent of support that is provided; and the various liability, indemnity, and warranty points that crop up.