Design Partner Agreement

A contract to help startups onboard their earliest users and customers while protecting their intellectual property.

Download and use

Start on the right foot

Everything you need to onboard your startup’s design partners.

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Industry-standard terms

Written by a committee of tech attorneys, specifically for startups. Vetted with early-stage investors, operators, and founders.

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Built for design partnerships

Easily build in commitments about feedback, deployment, and case studies.

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Includes IP protections

Develop your product with design partner input while preventing roadblocks during due diligence for fundraising or acquisitions.

Using this agreement

Common Paper agreements consist of a signed Cover Page and Standard Terms that are hosted online and incorporated by reference. Creating and executing an agreement is easy:

Fill out your Cover Page

This document helps you and your design partner agree on important terms of your partnership such as feedback obligations, case studies, fees, and future discounts.

Send for signature

Once both parties have agreed on the terms, send the Cover Page for signature using your preferred method.

About this Common Paper agreement

What is a design partnership?

Design partners are the first users of a startup’s product. Design partners work closely with the startup to provide critical feedback in exchange for early access and favorable (or free) pricing. Read more about design partnerships in our guide on How to Work with Design Partners.

Why do I need a contract?

Unlike a non-binding letter of intent or a handshake, the Design Partner Agreement helps you create buy-in and clarify expectations while protecting your intellectual property.

How do I use this agreement?

To execute an agreement using the Common Paper Design Partner Agreement, first download a copy of the Cover Page in your preferred format. Then finalize the terms of the agreement with your counterparty and input those terms into the corresponding bracketed section of the Cover Page. Finally, sign your Cover Page with your counterparty via the signing process of your choice. The Cover Page incorporates the Standard Terms by reference, completing the executed agreement.

I see this agreement is hosted online. Does that mean it will change?

Version 1 of this agreement will remain unchanged and hosted at commonpaper.com/standards/design-partner-agreement/1.0. Over time, we will create new versions to accommodate changes to the law and additional use cases. We expect future changes to occur infrequently, and they will be posted as a new version. However, any new versions will not change agreements that incorporate prior versions.

How was this agreement created?

The Common Paper Design Partner Agreement was created by a committee of dozens of attorneys representing technology vendors, procurement teams, boutique firms, and Big Law.

Do I have to incorporate the Standard Terms by reference?

You can also download the full version of the agreement here and include the Standard terms in the agreement itself.

Can I customize the Cover Page?

Yes, you can feel free to change the Cover Page any way you like. Many companies decide to add their company branding or logo and edit some of the text. The only thing you are required to keep is the license information and link to the standard terms.

Can I customize the Standard Terms?

All modifications to the Standard Terms should be made by addendum on the Cover Page. Incorporating the Standard Terms by reference from the Common Paper website gives both sides assurance that all key details and modifications are explicitly called out in the Cover Page.

What license is this agreement released under?

Common Paper agreements are free to use and modify under CC BY 4.0.

Available formats

This agreement is free to use or modify under CC BY 4.0. The agreement is available in the following formats.

Standard Terms

Full text:
Standard Design Partner Agreement posted at commonpaper.com/standards/design-partner-agreement/1.0

Cover Page

Cover Page &
Standard Terms

Optional info sheet