The issue of intellectual property has raised its head again in the industry this week with Manifest accusing former client BrewDog of using its ideas without payment, after the agency and BrewDog had parted ways. 


Manifest CEO Alex Myers’ tweet, calling out the issue, has snowballed and generated a lot of sympathy throughout the sector. Because, let’s face it, too many of us have been in this situation. I know I’ve spent too much time and money talking to lawyers about it over the years.


It’s a particularly prevalent problem in our industry because agencies are forced to give away a lot of ideas during competitive pitch processes or, as in the Manifest/ BrewDog situation, through ongoing creative ideation. 


But it’s notoriously hard to prove in most cases. And, for most agencies, it becomes a David V Goliath situation where they are forced to back down because of spiralling legal fees and the time involved to take big brands to court. 


Here’s the thing, though. Until clients start valuing PR creativity properly, this IP tussle won’t go away.


Thankfully, we’re not in this situation often as most clients are great working partners. And at Tin Man we now make it clear that creativity is our currency and our ideas cannot be replicated or used in any other way without payment or discussion. 


Going forwards, as an industry, we need to get much tougher and support each other as we’ve seen with the rallying around Manifest. I’d love to see industry associations like the PRCA and CIPR get behind the issue even more to help drive best practice. It’s about worth. value and respect throughout the sector. 

Mandy Sharp