TI India design contest irrational terms and conditions

Bertho pointed us to the totally irrational terms and conditions of the TI India design contest. Once you enter your project into their contest you lose any right over that project and idea whatsoever. TI claims total ownership of “all rights, title and interest, including but not limited to patents, designs, mask-works, copyright and rights of reproduction, re-use and moral rights”. This is leaps and bounds more aggressive than the standard we-need-to-use-it-for-publicity clause most contests have. Here’s a exert from the terms & conditions:

By making a submission as part of the TIIMDC, you expressly agree to irrevocably, perpetually and exclusively grant and assign in favour of Texas Instruments (India) Private Limited (TI), without any geographical restriction and on a royalty free basis, all rights, title and interest, including but not limited to patents, designs, mask-works, copyright and rights of reproduction, re-use and moral rights, in respect of the materials, designs and/or ideas submitted by you to TI. Upon submission to TI, you shall cease to enjoy or retain any right, title or interest over the material, design or idea in question. You agree to duly sign and execute all documents as may be needed by TI to give effect to the above grant/assignment. The fact that such materials, designs and/or ideas could potentially make you eligible for awards offered by TI to a winning participant of the TIIMDC forms sufficient consideration for the above grant and assignment, irrespective of whether or not you are finally selected as the winner of the TIIMDC or provided any award or recognition by TI.

Yikes. Bad TI.

We also checked up on TI’s European Analog Design Contest. Here the conditions are much more relaxed. In our understanding you give TI the right to publish your work without attribution but all licenses and intellectual property remain yours. See the excerpt below.

Lesson learned: Always read the fine print! Watch out when entering these contests. Not all of them are as wholesome and open source friendly as the 555 Contest and the Open 7400 Logic Competition.

Each team and each Entrant hereby grant TI and its affiliates a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, and royalty-free right and license to publish their design reports, designs and other information submitted, or any portion or modification thereof, in connection with Texas Instruments products, technical or marketing publications, advertisements or promotional activities, including without limitation TI or third party technical articles, data sheets, application notes, reference designs or internet publications. TI reserves the right to publish the designs without attribution. Except for these limited rights to publish, TI does not obtain any other ownership, rights or licenses in any of the Entrants’, team’s or university’s intellectual property or confidential information.

TI’s European Analog Design Contest has conditions that are less bold.

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12 Comments

  1. Well, is it irrational on the part of TI India, or is it irrational local laws that force such a move?

      1. nothing specific, but sometimes there are some strange reasons to do these things. legislation often does not make sense, and sometimes these technology transfer things get weird.,

  2. Yeah, TI needs to get their act together when it comes to contests. I entered another one of their contests, and found that the dev board used by the contest quickly became unobtanium – so if you fried your board during development you were out of the game. And if you built something cool using the board, there was no way for anybody else to easily reproduce your results.

    To top it off, the board used a toolchain that retailed for over $1K. Entrants were provided with a “free” copy that expired a few weeks after the submission deadline, but there was really no way to continue development on your project without buying the pricey software.

  3. I’d really just like to hear the other side. They have contradicting statements. Perhaps the lawyer just went overboard?

    1. Doesn’t really matter whether or not the lawyers went overboard here. It is, in my opinion, inexcusable to organize a contest with such an abusive set of rules. They /should/ have known better. It can be plain stupidity or it can be malice. Either way, it is overreaching beyond any acceptable norm and should be exposed for what it is: abusive.
      TI should _publicly_ denounce either the terms and conditions or stop the contest immediately. If they do not do either, then, for what I am concerned, it may be time to consider sourcing other channels.

  4. Ahhh,
    The great IP theft. Just remember southpark and the Human Centipad episode.

    “it won’t read”

  5. Hello,
    Thanks for bringing this to our notice. The terms and conditions in question have been corrected. The contest in question does not, in any way, intend to own the rights of the participants. All rights of the project ideas reside with the participants. We appreciate your feedback. The website can be viewed in the URL below:

    http://timcucontest.com/t_c.html

    The contest is a forum to encourage innovation and creativity. Thanks again.

    1. I welcome the change and thank TI for doing so. The terms are now at a generally accepted level.

      However, there are a few questions left open: Why were the t&cs so bad to begin with? And, what would have happened if the situation was not publicly exposed?

      I’d want to believe that it was a overzealous lawyer that went a overboard, or someone added boilerplate with search-and-replace editing, but that adds the question about quality control. Call it a “need for blame assignment”, but personally, I’d like to know /why/ things go wrong. It is not about who did it, by why it happened. When you know why it happened, you can prevent it from happening again.

  6. Hello,
    As mentioned already, this was an oversight and NOT intentional. The contest does not intend to own any rights of the projects submitted in this contest. We appreciate your interest in TI and will continue to look forward to your support.

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