When entering into a partnership with a development agency for your ecommerce project, such as an ambitious Salesforce Commerce Cloud installation, there may be a possibility that they will bring with them their own intellectual property. This is something worth being fully aware of given the potential complications.
Intellectual property is defined as a creation of the mind — intentions, pieces of art, designs, names, images, symbols — that is used in commerce and is protected in law.
When an ecommerce dev agency does possess previous intellectual property when entering into negotiations with you, it is likely that they will need you to agree that any intellectual property that is implemented into your website will continue to be the property of the agency.
In this scenario, you are going to need to obtain a license in order to use their intellectual property and incorporate it into your website project. It’s also worth noting that the same applies to a scenario in which an ecommerce dev agency is using intellectual property via a third party. You still need to acquire a license to use intellectual property that the agency does not own themselves.
There are two alternative licenses that you are able to apply for: a perpetual license in which you are able to use outside intellectual property indefinitely; or a finite license that grants you permission to use intellectual property for a defined period of time.
Yet there are more avenues that you’re able to explore with your ecommerce dev agency that can provide greater flexibility. For example, it is possible to negotiate the rights of intellectual property in order for you to be able to use it if you decided to migrate your brand to a new website. So the fee that you paid for the intellectual property would still be valid on your new site. It is these situations that you should consider before putting pen to paper on any contract.
Remember that ownership of intellectual property is not a fuzzy gray area that is difficult to discover. It is a super simple process that involves reading website development contracts as well as SOWs (statements of work) to know of any relevant intellectual property, its ownership, and future ownership upon any completed website project.
You can even go one step further: consider talking to previous clients of an ecommerce dev agency to learn of their own experiences when working together. For former clients, were things crystal clear from the beginning, or were there some hiccups in clarifying intellectual property ownership?