What's in a name?

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[Disclaimer: I used to work at MetaDesign and am still friends with many of the people who work there. I am also still friends with many of the people who left MetaDesign for Ammunition.]

Some of you have already heard my rant about this, but I've calmed down from my initial shock and would like to engage in a civilized discussion about the legality and integrity of Ammunition's decision to showcase on its new website all of the projects that Brett Wickens and Matt Rolandson led while they were Creative Director and President, respectively, at MetaDesign. I counted at least ten projects for which the client had actually hired MetaDesign, not Ammunition, but which are currently displayed in Ammunition's portfolio in addition to having already been on MetaDesign's portfolio for the last several months/years.

Now, it would be one thing if Wickens and Rolandson showcased these projects on their own personal websites; Adobe did, after all, hire Wickens and MetaDesign to design its CS1 and CS2 packaging. It did not, however, hire Ammunition, and while Ammunition attempts to give credit to MetaDesign via a small rollover link at the bottom of each project page, I still find this misleading or, at the very least, confusing.

Legality
I do not purport to have the slightest inkling about what kind of legal contracts were agreed to between the parties involved. Perhaps it is perfectly legal to cite projects in this way, especially since Ammunition founder Robert Brunner came from Pentagram, which operates more as a collective of design teams each led by a principal and each managing its own client accounts than as a single design unit. (When Brunner left to found Ammunition, he took his whole team at Pentagram--and ostensibly his clients--with him.) Perhaps this is the same situation that causes confusion over who designed the first Apple mouse in 1980. At the time it was Hovey-Kelley Design, but David Kelley later merged his company, David Kelley Design (I'm still unclear as to whether this is the same legal entity as Hovey-Kelley Design or a subsequent incarnation of it), with three other firms to create IDEO. So did IDEO create the first Apple mouse if Hovey and the other original team members do not and potentially never have worked there?

Integrity
Even if it were technically legal (with the appropriate credit citations), is it fair? What is integrity when it comes to design, given that so many products are the result of teamwork and designers are so fickle when it comes to firm loyalty? Wikipedia defines integrity as "the quality of having a sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one's actions." Another definition describes it as "adherence to a code of values; utter sincerity, honesty, candor; completeness." Honesty seems to be a big player here, and perhaps that is why I still feel uneasy about the way Ammunition has represented MetaDesign's work, even though I can convince myself that it could be totally legal. If Ammunition were a person, I can picture him walking around in borrowed clothing and taking all of the credit when others compliment his sense of style, while anyone who bothered to look at the tags would find someone else's initials stitched into them.

When has something like this happened in the past, and how have people reacted to it?

How does a design firm brand itself if its identity is really just a collection of different brands associated with its principals and their past alliances?

33 comments:

    On January 15, 2009 at 8:16 PM Anonymous said...

    Attribution is a tricky subject, i've toed the line many times in my career, in most cases work done for hire is the sole property of the clients but in reality as designers the "product" whatever it may be is the only artifact we have to show for our hard work as creatives. A portfolio represents not only capabilities, and experience, but creative vision. What is more truthful, to "take work with you" and cite it as being completed elsewhere or to be the company who executed the contracts with the client but no longer manages any of the talent (specific individuals not metaphorical talent) expressed in their portfolio? There is no right or wrong answer to the question, just something to think about. I feel as designers we should always retain the rights to show your work as your own, no matter the circumstances, to do otherwise would be unfair to yourself. There are cases where one should show restraint, and i certainly do not condone breaking contracts, but displaying your own original thought and creative work is your right as a designer. As long as each one of you is truthful to your peers and your clients about your abilities and your design contributions to the world, i think by all means you should take responsibility, pride and ownership over everything you put out into the world.

    On January 16, 2009 at 1:22 PM maritoruiz said...

    I agree with the general premise that the work you do you should be recognized for. Easier to do when you, as the designer, are the only one working on a project...a little harder once the teams increase in size.

    The question, however, isn't about whether citing ownership is right or wrong. It's about being transparent on when and where the work took place. I.e. not what's in a name, but what's behind the name.

    I argue posting work done on Ammunition's website, while designed at MetaDesign, is misleading. The three reasons I feel it's misleading is 1) there are a lot of projects, it's not just a one-off 2) they are presented at the same level as the other projects 3) *the visual prominence given to cite and explain the credit is very tiny tiny. **the asterisk has a use, after all, because it's noticeable.

    A reasonable conclusion (given my three stated reasons) is that a potential client who is going through the site will assume that's all work executed at Ammunition, which is actually false.

    Another assumption that I have, though it may be egregiously wrong, is that Ammunition doesn't really have a public portfolio on interactive or branding work executed at Ammunition. Otherwise, we'd see a lot more labeled "Ammunition". Which is fine, design firms are always expanding their services, but this seems more like a dressy sales tactic.

    I think a more transparent solution is to cite the great work and specific contributions in the personal bios of the team members, where the credit is really due, instead of giving the impression the work happened behind the enclosed walls of Amm'tion.

    Does any one else have other ideas on a compromise?

    It's not a matter of what has been done but how has been done.

    By the way Ammunition has chosen to credit Metadesign and Pentagram (tiny little credit link on font size 5), it is very obvious they were trying to mislead potential clients visiting the website and make them believe Ammunition, as an organization, was involved in the execution of these projects in order to bring new business.

    Instead, if their intention would have been to show how experienced their people are, they would have chosen to show these projects either under another category of projects ('Previous work from our designers') or under each respective's Creative Director page ( e.g. 'Matt worked at Metadesing and was heavily involved in the Adobe project as.. blah blah'). Another option is to show all this projects in a closed extranet and show it to clients upon request or in case they want to see the visual credentials.

    Oh, and one last option is very simple: just don't show it. It will make your site ligther.

    Unless Ammunition bought MetaDesign, how can they really argue that it's ok to use these projects on their site?

    If every design firm did what Ammunition is doing, each firm would have dozens of projects in their portfolio that are identical to the projects that many other firms also have in their portfolio, because people constantly move across firms within the industry.

    On January 17, 2009 at 10:38 AM Anonymous said...

    As someone who has owned and operated a mid-sized studio over the course of the past ten years, I've had the misfortune of having to deal with this issue on several occasions. The severity has varied widely and has caused me to form some pretty firm opinions. It breaks down into two categories for me and has some caveats:

    - If you're an individual designer, you should be framing yourself as one on your site (and/or other materials). Looking like a 'studio' is confusing to people evaluating you and your work. Unless you employ other people, you're not really a studio/firm etc. You're just trying to look bigger in order to get larger engagements. This is ONE form of deception. While not exactly the point of this discussion, it is related.

    So long as you appear as an individual (one that has likely worked at other firms and studios), I think that it is OK to show your work from those studios. One monster size caveat: You should VERY CLEARLY be attributing the work to the studio where you were employed or who hired you to do the work as a contractor.

    - If you're a studio or firm employing people, it is NEVER OK to show work from other studios unless you were a subcontractor to that firm and have specific permission or approval from the company that hired you to do the work. Otherwise, you should never even consider showing another firms work. Ever. If it's not specifically illegal, it should be -- let alone morally reprehensible.

    Clients choose firms based on their reputation, response and attention to their problem, management abilities, pre-existing client roster, portfolio relevancy, overall brand, pre-exisiting relationships, strategic guidance, etc., etc. There are a LOT of variables considered when firms get selected to do work -- many of the them having little to do with the actual design deliverables themselves. The portfolio artifacts are merely the instantiation of the program. There's so much more at play...

    People work very hard to maintain their firms' reputation, integrity and portfolio strength. Not to mention all of the time, expenses (personnel, overhead, rent, insurance, etc etc) associated with manifesting that work. Turning around and showing that work as if it was done at your own firm is pretty much unforgivable.

    It's one thing if you -- ex-Meta team -- want to show your work in a business development meeting behind closed doors. Hopefully, you'd have the good sense to properly attribute the work in situ. But IN PUBLIC?! I would have thought designers of this caliber would know better.

    Fortunately, I've found that this kind of behavior comes back around to haunt organizations. Their reputations suffer, clients are less dumb than you think, potential employees hesitate based on things they've heard about the place. But in the meantime, I'm pretty outraged by what those guys have done here. It shows a complete lack of professionalism. I'm sure it'll come back around to bite them in the ass somehow. I have to hope...

    On January 17, 2009 at 11:04 AM Anonymous said...

    My favorite part of the (hidden) attribution is that you have to rollover the 50% Grey link to expose the actual attribution.

    Definitely a disappointing move by a group of talented designers.

    On January 19, 2009 at 12:23 PM Anonymous said...

    Honesty is the best policy. Old saying but very true. I also have a small design business and have contracted at MetaDesign for a few years back in the mid 90's. When we formed our design firm we showcased work from MetaDesign but we were very clear about our involvement. Needless to say prospective clients engaged us based on the experience we had and frankly the honesty played a part too. The fact of the matter is it's a small design community in the bayarea and credibility/integrity plays a big roll - and yes clients are not stupid, they know who is bogus. Just google Ammunition and you can find the dirt. MetaDesign is a long standing creditable design firm worldwide - who do you think clients are going to believe Ammunition?

    On January 21, 2009 at 11:28 PM Anonymous said...

    What about this too: http://www.bricksf.com/ ??

    There's work duplicated here that is also on Ammunition's website.

    The main problem I have with this is that we all know that the vast majority of successful design solutions today (especially from a prominent consultancy) rely on a collaborative team effort. It is a competency consultancies often sell. In other words, cross-functional design solutions that rely on a multitude of expertise, a high level of technological sophistication, the construction of a cohesive system etc. are always much bigger than any one person. It is well understood (and has been a question in every interview I've had) that any person who claims part authorship/involvement on design project needs to be articulate their role and input, and demonstrate it. The paradox here is that partners and high-level creatives have used their power to 'take' work with them and display a final solution in a way not no other team member ever could, when any professional with little more than a years experience knows that the extent of their influence can have been at best to guide client relationships, hire talented people, set a direction to explore and try to foster the right environment for good work to happen. I'm not devaluing the significant of these things, but ultimately it means they didn't actually do the work. There's no way they conceived or illustrated any of concepts they're displaying, they may have selected it to move forward/offered ways to refine it/pushed it through, but they certainly didn't actually execute it. There's obviously a lot of people who worked at Pentagram and MetaDesign who worked on these projects that aren't represented here and for sure aren't part of Ammunition or Brick (you can do a few web searches and find this out.) My point is, what does this mean for all the people who actually conceived and polished this work when their portfolio of work is spread all of a multitude of design firms websites represented in exactly the same way? Particularly given that most instrumental hands-on designers and technologists on these projects are probably moving (or attempting to move) into the similar level roles those of partners/associates/presidents/CDs who've misrepresented their work.

    Those designers have on their resume MetaDesign or Pentagram, that's what they signed up for, and they only have the right point to those firms and say "I was part of this project and did this." How do they respond to the question "but this is Brick's/Ammunition's work and you never worked there"? It puts them in position where they need to defend their work, their involvement, rather than being able to simply state their role. It makes claiming an instrumental role in the concept impossible and at the very least completely devalues their input and contribution (big or small) as the result of actions that are nothing less than belittling, disrespectful of the previous organizations that put food on their tables and that help bring in significant clients. Not to mention those they've left behind. It is a nothing short of blatant misuse of power. This is clearly demonstrated by the comments in response to this article: http://physicalinterface.com/view/that-design-is-money

    These are new firms with NO portfolio other than the work done since their formation. They are consultancies that have potential and ability based on the undoubted experience of the founder, partners and other staff members and the knowledge they bring with. But when it comes down to it, this is can be communicated in no than a bio and/or descriptive paragraph. The previous teams and environments are dispersed (indicated if nothing else by fact the author of this post doesn't work at either firm, nor does the author of the other post I linked to) — therefore, for all intents and purposes the team that can say "we can do this" is gone. Shouldn't the partner's experience, connections and reputations be enough to bring in work? This is probably more than any of other team members would have to form an organization of their own...?

    Does doing this mean that any person who has held a leadership role any firm can leave it, join another and display their previous employers work as now belonging to their new organization?

    These are prominent design professionals, with a significant presence in the design world and involvement with organizations like the AIGA and IDSA. If nothing else it sets a phenomenally bad example to anyone currently involved in or is thinking of entering the profession.

    Did Terry Irwin and Bill Hill display the work they directed at Landor and IDEO work respectively as Meta's when they set it up? Did Kevin Farnham display the work he did at Meta on Method's when he formed that? Did any of the other firms formed by ex-members Meta or Pentagram do similar? I don't think so.

    On January 22, 2009 at 4:01 AM Terry Irwin said...

    As one of the founding partners of the MetaSF office I faced the dilemma of having to start a company/office without a portfolio of work. We had work to show from our Berlin office, but it wasn't work done by us. In the early days we had to show our individual portfolios and explain that it was work completed at other firms in collaboration with other people. Some clients were willing to give us a chance; some told us to come back when we had a portfolio of projects from our office to show. It wasn't easy, but we felt it was the ethical thing to do. Within a year it was no longer an issue.

    As others on this string have pointed out, there is a difference between showing work as an individual consultant/freelancer and as a design firm. Work prominently displayed on a firm's website says 'this is work we created' a small credit or roll-over doesn't change the impression. Ethics are a tricky thing and the boundaries are rarely clear. I always ask myself 'what would I say to my students about this situation?' Would the partners at Ammunition tell their students that it was ethical to display work completed at another firm at the same level of hierarchy alongside work that was their own? Somehow, I don't think they would.

    On January 22, 2009 at 10:20 AM Anonymous said...

    dear mr. anonymous,

    attribution is not a tricky subject. you either made it, or you didn't make it. if you're tip toeing around the whole situation, then you probably didn't do it. attribution is only tricky if you make it so.

    yours,
    fellow anonymous

    On January 22, 2009 at 11:46 AM Anonymous said...

    There is lots of gray area surrounding this issue. I've been in the position of starting my own office after years at a large design firm. It was obvious that without a visual representation of my abilities attracting work would be impossible. You have to show work you've done as an employee. I believe it is totally ethical as long as you do three things:

    You are clear about where the work was done.

    You are sensitive to any conflicts that may occur as a result of showing the work (is your new office featuring the exact same work in a way similar to your former employer? A key case study on line for instance. If so a conflict arises and the firm where the work originated should have sole ownership).

    You were THE designer. This is the key issue for me. Yes all design solutions are the result of collaboration but we all know the rolls we played. If I designed the identity I'm very comfortable showing it and claiming it as my design. I know from experience that even within large firms there are many times when senior level designers are the authors of the final creative product. The actual creator must have some ownership regardless of where he was sitting at the time of creation. Lots of gray area for sure (tough to say this for interactive projects).

    There is a graphic design firm in San Francisco that forbids its employees to show any work done while an employee. I would never work for them and would never advise a young designer to join them. It is a denial of the contribution made by the designers. It furthers the cult of God like principles/geniuses. Total nonsense. This needs to be a rational, honest process with all parties showing empathy.

    On January 22, 2009 at 12:17 PM Anonymous said...

    As a former MetaDesigner who had a significant hand in much of the work in question (arguably more than the two individuals who have claimed it as theirs, in fact), this situation is thoroughly disappointing. It sets a terrible precedent for other studios, presents a bad example to younger designers, and taints Robert Brunner's reputation no end. It also does a major disservice to all those other individuals who played a role in creating the work, and assumes that clients (both past and potential) are idiots.

    Annoying as it is, the old adage that "you're only as good as your last project" seems quite applicable here. Ammunition's non-existent graphics portfolio has swollen immensely simply by hiring a couple of people from MetaDesign – hiring some executive staff, not acquiring the company, lock, stock, and portfolio, that is. Make no mistake: the buried attribution for the work is a clear intent to mislead, and while a handful of clients may not fall for it, many will. This is a cynical ploy and exposes an unethical side to the Ammunition leadership. What goes around, comes around...

    On January 22, 2009 at 12:47 PM Anonymous said...

    As many others have said here, this truly really is disappointing to see. Stepping on those around you only shows a lack of integrity. What good is this portfolio of work if his reputation suffers for it and people stop respecting him? Does the work matter then?

    I am sad to admit that I bought and had signed my "Do You Matter" book - and now I just want to toss it out with the rest of my design promo junk mail. Brunner certainly doesn't matter to me anymore, good work or not.

    "What goes around, comes around"
    I'm sure many of us can't wait for this to happen to Brunner. He's got it comin'.

    On January 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM Anonymous said...

    As an ex-Meta who worked on a great number of those projects I'm deeply saddened to see it used in such an unethical manner.

    While Brett Wickens obviously played a part in the work shown I find it pretty insulting to those that contributed the vast majority of the work. Without the effort made by the entire team none of this work would have been possible.
    It would have been fine to show potential clients the work behind closed doors with the preface that it was done while at MetaDesign but to show it along side Ammunition's work lacks ethics of any sort.

    Karma's a bitch. Matt and Brett I can only hope you guys read this and reconsider your actions. They speak much louder than the words on this blog.

    On January 22, 2009 at 5:09 PM Anonymous said...

    It's interesting that a few days ago, the credit rollovers for the projects in question said “Designed while at MetaDesign”, but they now say “Creative Direction by partner Brett Wickens while at MetaDesign.”

    Hmmmmm......

    On January 22, 2009 at 11:13 PM Anonymous said...

    Apparently, the ex-MetaSF partners at Ammunition have defriended some of their former colleagues at Metadesign on Facebook.

    Now THAT is a mature reaction to a totally objective and constructive blog post.

    On January 23, 2009 at 1:54 AM Anonymous said...

    To Anonymous (re: comment of January 22, 2009 11:13 PM)

    re: "defriending"

    Agreed.

    By defriending their ex-colleagues (the easy option in the sandbox world of Facebook for a spiteful breakup), the ex-Meta "team" (all two of them), now Ammunition pair, would seem to be reacting as "You're either with us or against us."

    ...just like the recently departed presidential administration, with all their notable achievements in the world of conflict.

    Following that combative analogy, isn't it poetic that the pair's selection of new firm to join is named "Ammunition"?

    having a own company I understand why this kind of things can happen BUT what happened here is insane.
    Brett and Matt should not have allowed that kind of presentation. They can talk about what they have done in their BIOs but not on a corporate site.
    I know that both think they are the greatest and I wondered but now CASE closed

    On January 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM Anonymous said...

    As the previous poster Enric mentioned, I think the distinction between what was done and how it was done is important.

    All design firms -- no mater what size -- have to start somewhere and must to be able to show the competency of their employees. I previously worked for a design firm that was just starting up, and the principals didn't have much work to show other than what they had done at previous firms. They showed that work on their web site, along with credits that were prominent and in plain view.

    This is not, however, the case with the MetaDesign work shown on Ammunition Group's site. The site's landing page quickly flashes images of projects, including those created while at MetaDesign, which clearly gives an initial impression that all work shown was created at Ammunition. Also, as mentioned by other posters, not only are credits tiny (and gray), but they are hidden behind rollover links. Another interesting thing to note is that the credit links do not appear immediately when scrolling though the Work page. Whether or not this happens by design, it serves to bury the credits even further.

    The partners at Ammunition Group have more than enough experience in the industry to know that what they have done, while probably not illegal, is highly unethical. Whether or not they choose to admit that fact to themselves, though, is another story. Denial, as they say, runs deep. But then again, so does Karma. The design community in San Francisco is very small, and clients who buy design at the level offered by Ammunition Group are not stupid.

    Two points
    i) Would we assess this situation different ethically if MetaDesign was no longer in business?

    ii) Do you think MetaDesign holds any responsibility for not creating clear employment documents that specify what is permissible in situations like this and/or enforcing them?

    On January 23, 2009 at 12:48 PM Anonymous said...

    1. Even if Meta had gone out of business, ethical issues remain. The work WASN'T created at Ammo and to position it as if it was isn't honest. The fact reamins it was created in a different environment with different people. More importantly, it still undercuts the ability of the rest of the creative team to legitimately show it in their portfolios—Ammo won't be on their CV. It sets up the needless situation for clients/creative directors to figure out who isn't being forthright. This puts more junior people at a disadvantage and it makes the design profession look—frankly—sleezy.

    2. Trying to reinforce something like this is almost impossible. It's costly (in terms of both staff time and legal fees) and sets up an atmosphere of mistrust. Fortunately the actions of folks like Brett and Matt are in the minority. Most designers (in my experience) usually want to do the right thing.

    On January 23, 2009 at 2:54 PM Anonymous said...

    As a member of the San Francisco design community, and a long time admirer of firms like Meta & Pentagram, this is dispiriting. As everyone else has noted, designers of this caliber should know better. Every designer knows that any time you agree to work for someone else, that firm will always have the right to claim your work as theirs. This much is clear. But the notion that another firm altogether, one that perhaps didn't even exist when the work in question was created, could suddenly claim your work as theirs, well... that's just heartbreaking.

    Looking from the outside in, this is also troubling in other aspects. If I were a potential client of Ammunition, this discussion would call into question not only the Meta-related aspects of their site, but really their entire body of work. If this firm is willing to be so blatant about misleading people with these particular attributions, I'd wonder: where else are they being deceitful?

    On January 23, 2009 at 6:04 PM Anonymous said...

    These guys (and their entire group) should have known better. What they have done here is clearly misleading.

    The weenie little "credit" approach they have taken is a joke.

    There are so many other ways they could have shown this work and still reaped its benefit.

    I don’t know what everybody’s so worked up over. I’m, you know, clearly the aggrieved party here, man. The other work on the Ammunition website — painstakingly designed only by me — is now being crowded out by all this MetaDesign stuff. You think those grills designed themselves?

    I’ve heard some of the criticism and discussion around my last post, taken it to heart, and I wanted to set the record straight. I misspoke. In fact, I wasn’t the only designer on the non-MetaDesign-designed Ammunition projects (the ones designed by MetaDesigners). I was also not — in most cases — the creative director on those projects. But I do own a Fuego grill. They’re great.

    this is a bummer. however it reflects the business ethos of these two guys- and i very much detest it

    On January 26, 2009 at 10:09 PM Patrick Au-Yeung said...

    All these anonymous comments make for a pretty good "guess who wrote what" game. and since I've been a prime suspect supposedly responsible for some of them (based on the number of inquiries in the past week, both explicit and implicit, from a number of people), I might as well weigh in on the issue here for the first time. Can't hurt if you're already in jail.

    I currently work for neither company, so for the most part I don't care who fucks who to death. Although an interesting analogy can be used to describe the situation: what if the creative director of Louie Vuitton decides to go work for Coach, and suddenly you start to see the LV handbag in the Coach shop window? i'd imagine there would be some pretty confused customers.

    I worked on a few of the MetaDesign projects on the Ammo site. So what. They also show up on a few other people's portfolios as well, as with most of my work throughout my career. It's called team work. Although I think it's one thing to show them in the privacy of a conference room, and quite another in full view of the general public on the web.

    At the end of the day, none of this will matter. In 6 months there will be something else to talk about, Ammo will have new work to show, MetaDesign will stop scratching the itch on its back. People will still hate each other. What can you do?

    Thanks to everyone who weighed in; I guess we wouldn't be designers if we weren't passionate about our ideas, thoughts, and work, and it shows in these responses. I'm hopeful that being passionate doesn't and won't supersede our capacity for mutual respect, honesty, and empathy, or impair our ability to collaborate and support each other in our shared goal of designing a better world. Peace in the Middle East...as well as in the Yay.

    On January 29, 2009 at 10:42 PM Gregg Butensky said...

    I'm late to the party.

    With all due respect for the talent these guys have - and I'm quite sincere when I say it was a privilege to work with them - the presentation of this work in this way is unethical.

    What is it that is marketed on a design agency's web site by way of presenting a portfolio? Is it creative vision - or is it creative vision plus the ability to get the job done (including project management, technical considerations, production, implementation, content development...)? What allows all of these elements to come together in a successful whole? The company. Its leadership, its philosophy, its hiring practices.

    The company deserves the attribution for the project.

    I don't see any gray area.

    On February 19, 2009 at 3:28 PM Anonymous said...

    Let's return to the blog's 'Legality' section statement re: "IDEO 'inventing' the mouse"...

    This whole discussion centers, wraps, and warps around those who chose to bend the truth; try Wikipedia, or just Google 'Mouse Inventor'.

    Wasn't there that SRI guy, D. Englebart, who not only provided the theoreticals, but a functioning wooden-cased 1:1 mock up, replete with optical encoders, and the software demo. of the backend?

    How 'bout the fact that the Industrial Designer was an Apple employee?

    By whatever name, the forerunner to IDEO provided mechanical packaging and drafting services to their client, Apple. let's not confuse proficiency with invention.

    Perhaps interested souls should interrupt their blogging, and instead spend a night on Wikipedia.

    This is indeed tricky. The key, as one commenter suggested above (and if I may expand on it), is what impression a reasonable visitor to the Ammunition site would get if they saw the work. Would they recognize it was from another team, or would they believe it was Ammunition’s alone?
       I realize many of our professional work today is collaborative, and this sort of cross-pollination, for want of a better term, is going to become more commonplace. The internet has seen to that. But does the average punter hiring this design firm know? I’m going to lean toward that being a yes: the audience Ammunition is likely to attract is not the Mom and Pop store down the road.
       If I were MetaDesign, I would examine what agreements were in place. I would prefer it if the folks at Ammunition had sought permission, and would like to give them the benefit of the doubt (absent of any information to the contrary) that they did. Our former team members have been very good at seeking permission, but maybe it’s because they know that I am very likely to say yes.

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