Case Study- Client Reconsiders a “Non-Negotiable” RFP IP Ownership Provision
Recently our agency was included in an RFP for a national advertiser. One of the conditions in the RFP required the agency to relinquish its ownership rights of any work presented in exchange for a $5,000 stipend. We advised the advertiser that we wished to retain the rights to our work and we would decline the $5,000 stipend. The advertiser responded that the condition was non-negotiable and if we did not agree to it we would be excluded from the review.
As a matter of policy we will not give up our ownership rights to intellectual property for anything less than full payment for the work.
We went back to the advertiser and explained that we were a signatory to a letter from the 4A’s to search consultants asking that ownership not be a required when an agency is asked to provide spec work. We provided the advertiser with a copy of the 4A’s position paper which provides a clear rationale for the reason for and fairness of the policy.
The following is the advertiser’s response:
“As I said on Friday, we really appreciate you making your position known on the issue of ownership. It helped to broaden our perspective on the issue. Our thought has always been that we have such high standards as a company; we would never harm potential partners by doing something so unethical as using work that we did not fairly and equitably pay for, so we have always been most concerned about potential harm to the brand if we did not retain ownership.
But, in reading your note, it became obvious that all potential clients may not adhere to our same standards. So, in the spirit of partnership, we have revised the negotiation portion of our RFP. It is similar to the language you inserted but just written in general terms so it that can apply across the RFP to all agencies.”
This is a case of a non-negotiable really being negotiable when supported by a rational and fair position. The 4A’s position paper was very valuable.
Managing Partner; 4A Member Agency