I recently had to deal with a (once wonderful) client who wanted to re-negotiate my licensing agreement just before we were ready to sign the agreement with a licensing company. Not a good thing to have happen at the eleventh hour of negotiations.
A couple of things to keep in mind if you are considering using a licensing agent:
1. If you enter an arrangement with an agent because he/she is tough and will really look out for your interest, doesn’t it make sense that the agent will be tough when negotiating his/her own agreement with you?
2. If you try to cheat your agent at the last minute, do you really think the new company that is considering licensing your product is going to trust you? A good agent isn’t going to tell the licensee what you have done; he/she doesn’t need to say a thing. Licensing agents and licensees frequently have ongoing working relationships, so when the agent suddenly is not part of the conversation any longer, the licensee connects the dots. Your impulse to stiff your licensing agent to save a couple of bucks is just bad business; it will certainly lead to fall-out with your agent and, quite possibly, tank the deal and your reputation.
I work hard for my clients and I don’t get paid until they get paid. It isn’t unusual to spend two or more years getting a deal done. When you have an agreement with a licensing agent and he or she has already done the heavily-lifiting for you (whether it’s a mere introduction to the right licensee or crossing the “I’s” and dotting the “T’s” on the definitive licensing agreement), trying to re-negotiate your deal with your agent at the last minute, is very bad karma indeed.