Whether you’re a musician, a writer, or an interior designer, you are an artist, and your creations take time and effort to develop. However, some customers and people, in general, don’t seem to appreciate your unique creativity.
Everyone wants a beautiful home (and some are willing to pay for it), but what they fail to understand is that each interior design creation is unique. As an interior designer, you use your skills, knowledge, and experience to deliver a one-of-a-kind expression that fits the space and the people. However, the moment the project is completed, there’s a high chance you’ll see your concept everywhere without any credit to the creator so it is best to understand how to legally protect your interior design proposals and presentations so that this doesn’t happen to you.
In some cases, you don’t even have to implement the project. It’s enough to do the presentation or submit the concept for approval. There have been cases when customers take the idea and found a different designer (typically cheaper) to implement it.
Furthermore, there is the issue of social media sharing and DIY websites that completely trample an author’s right to be credited for their creation. Regardless of how you choose to look at it, the world of interior design has a blatant Intellectual Property (IP) problem.
3 Ways to Legally Protect Your Design Proposals and Presentations
For now, there aren’t that many things you can do, but there is still some hope. Numerous interior designers have raised this problem with their representatives, so the matter is gathering more attention. However, until legislators get a better grip of the situation, here are some of the things you can do to legally protect your interior design proposals and presentations:
1. Use the Current IP Tools
Original designs and concepts can be protected under copyright law (which extends internationally). Plus, a design or sketch doesn’t have to be published or even registered for copyright to be protected.
Still, if you do decide to take legal action, you will be going against your current or former customers (or people you once considered a good lead). This may give a bit of a negative reputation on the market, so make sure to pay attention to how you handle things. Plus, copyright suits tend to be expensive, over-complicated, and you don’t always get out of it victorious (especially if you’re fighting against a corporation).
2. Legal Documents
Another method you can use to protect your creations is to ask customers and leads to sign an NDA before a presentation. This is again, a bit difficult to implement especially with prospects. However, if you do decide to go this way, it’s best to hire a patent attorney to draft the documents and agreements. It may be a bit expensive, but it does help to cover all your bases in case of a dispute.
If all this sounds a bit too convoluted, you may practice the teaser method where you only present a small part of your project before signing the contract. Of course, not all customers will be happy to engage in a contractual obligation without seeing the whole thing first.
3. Document Security
You can protect your designs by making sure customers and leads can’t copy or save them into their own devices. Nowadays, you can find various software tools that help you share documents with just viewing rights. Also, you can choose who to share your files with, so only the people you’ve whitelisted can see. This limits any sharing that might have happened otherwise.
Your decor ideas need protection just like any other Intellectual Property item and now you know how to do so without stirring too much of a discussion. Still, some customers may not feel at ease with any of the methods described above. When this happens, you decide if you risk sharing your work without any protection. Sadly, you never know how things will turn out in the end.
Images Courtesy of Canva.