Here’s an interesting question faced by many a SEO consultancy and their clients; just who does own the IP for a particular project conceived, planned and implemented by both parties.

Indeed, it’s a question faced by almost every UK SEO consultant who gets, by a client, just what they have bought at the end of the day.

The question often arises when a client/consultancy relationship breaks down, the client questions the cost of a strategy, or the client runs out of money and decides to do it themselves. In these examples, who owns the Intellectual Property of the service that has arisen from meetings and ideas from both parties?

The simple answer is the agency, in the same way that an ad agency might hand over the design work of a given campaign, but won’t necessarily hand over the thinking behind the ad-buying campaign.

It’s a difficult area, but SEO is a service that is sometimes physical and often cerebral. And many an agency will have created a particular model (a way of doing things) that works for them and their clients, but are naturally reluctant to pass this on to the client’s in house team, or a newly appointed agency.

There is also a sense of the client does get a large chunk of the physical work which stays with them, mainly because it’s implemented on their site. Thus, onsite work (keyword research, metatags and webpage copy) naturally becomes the property of the client. Whereas with the offsite work, that tends to be the area that consultancies do not want to give away.

So, in a way, the IP gets shared out and that’s the way it should be.