Misleading Clients by Claiming Themes Are Your Design

So I’m doing some consulting for a client and they just cut a check to a developer for $15,000 for a fairly static website. Upon being paid in full backend credentials were provided and after snooping around because I didn’t understand why they paid this much I was able to discover that this is a Themeforest template designed by one of the more popular theme authors in the Envato marketplace. The developers scrubbed the entire theme to remove any mention of the original theme name or author, all php and css files were updated… the theme’s code has no mention of the original theme… the only way I figured this out was by looking at the theme options demo import. They didn’t replace any of the images and by googling what the site name on one of the images I discovered it was in fact a theme.

The agreement they signed never indicated they were using an existing theme, they say they will design and develop a CMS using Wordpress. I’m wondering what you guys think of this. They changed the theme name, removed any mention of the author and made it look like they designed it themselves… is this a violation of the licensing agreement with Themeforest? I have no doubt my client will seek litigation to recoup a good chunk of what they paid, I just wonder if this is something commonly done by developers to hide the fact that they’re using a theme?

I don’t think that the fact that they removed the author’s name is a problem. You buy a theme and It’s basically yours, you can do what you want with it: change the name, logo, code, etc. If they stated that the site will be custom made , unique and original and just used a template, then your client may have a legal option. And to answer your question, yes, almost every single theme bought here is sold to a client and I bet that nobody is telling their clients that the theme was 50$ :slight_smile:

Morally it is very wrong but legally it does not contradict the license.

I think the purchases made that go towards client projects is probably around 60% and you’ll find that the majority either don’t bother or don’t have the technical skills to fully remove author or theme details.

We have interviewed more than one person who showed us portfolio’s containing TF items - some without even editing the demo!

Anyone doing this takes a sizable risk and would be much better off being honest but they will most likely argue that they are billing to make modifications etc. Although 15K worth of modifications as per your original reference seems a bit steep!

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