In the realm of contract law, a large percentage of issues arise because one party attempted to present a contract with predatory terms. Often masked with flowery language, small print, and a smile, these contracts can spell disaster for independent creators and artists who are searching for their first major deal. Unfortunately, this often results in signing away important intellectual property rights without pursuing the effort to negotiate terms.
If you are ever presented with a contract that even seems like it may be predatory in nature, here’s how you should proceed.
1. Don’t Sign Immediately
There may be pressure from the originator of the contract to sign immediately. If the matter is dubbed urgent, and there is any sort of shame or condescension invoked when the contract is presented, this is an immediate red flag. If the vendor is reputable and a serious businessperson, they will encourage you to take your time with the contract, not coerce you into signing prematurely.
At all costs, if the material is too long or complex to completely understand immediately, resist the urge to sign immediately upon receipt. It is perfectly within your purview to take your time in assessing the contract, and it may actually save your intellectual property.
2. Read It Thoroughly
It is astonishing how common it has become for individuals to sign lengthy legal documents without consulting an IP lawyer. Even more surprising is how often this occurs without even reading it themselves. Contracts are binding legal agreements that must be taken seriously, as they can have career-long consequences for your rights and property and take arduous battles to renegotiate or terminate after signing. Always take the time necessary to read through the entire document carefully yourself, even if you have enlisted the services of an attorney. After all, this is an agreement between you and the contracted party, so you should know exactly what you are agreeing to.
3. Consult an IP Lawyer
You should always seek legal help when dealing with a predatory contract. A qualified IP lawyer will be able to clarify any misleading phrases, cut through any intentionally foggy language, and represent you in negotiating the terms.
Some creatives fall victim to the fallacy that it is uncool or unprofessional to consult an attorney when dealing with contracts. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Seeking legal advice from an expert in contract law demonstrates that you take your ideas and rights seriously, which should bolster your reputation as a businessperson to legitimate counterparties. Don’t give into the temptation to handle a fishy contract by yourself. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Protect Your Intellectual Property with Patterson Thuente
Your intellectual property is valuable. As artist, inventor, or creator, you deserve the credit for and the rights to your ideas. Taking the right steps to ensure your work is protected through the proper legal channels is key to ensuring your livelihood going forward. With Patterson Thuente, we will help clear up any confusion you may have, answer your questions, and work to keep your intellectual property yours. Contact us to start building an IP strategy.