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Ownership of a product, canceled contract


I need a bit of advice or suggestions here. I have a contract open. I have delivered the product but after 2 months and constant promises of revision and feedback, there is still nothing moving. Client now and then send some message but nothing is moving regarding the project. I have slowly enough of this situation and constantly contemplating what to do. I also did not get to the point of asking for at least partial payment (I hate begging). I was considering ending the contract without asking for payment. My concern is how to ensure that what I have delivered will not be used. 


Should I be more patient or just close the contract and move on?


Community Member

Your profile is private, what's the product?


If you really prefer to end the contract, you can do so with a friendly note informing the client that they don't have ownership of the product. If the client is still using it, can this help? 

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Community Member

It sounds like you're in a challenging situation, and deciding how to proceed can be tricky. Here are some considerations to help you make a decision:

  1. Communication:

    • Before taking any drastic steps, consider having a direct and honest conversation with the client. Express your concerns about the lack of progress and ask for clear feedback or revision requests.
  2. Project Agreement:

    • Review the initial project agreement and see if there were specific terms regarding revisions, feedback, or timelines. Ensure that you are both on the same page regarding project expectations.
  3. Setting a Deadline:

    • If you haven't already, set a reasonable deadline for the client to provide feedback or revision requests. Clearly communicate that you need their input to move forward and finalize the project.
  4. Partial Payment:

    • While you may feel uncomfortable asking for payment, it's entirely reasonable to request compensation for the work you've completed. If the client is unresponsive, you have the right to be compensated for the services you've provided.
  5. Closing the Contract:

    • If the client continues to be unresponsive and the project has come to a standstill, you might consider closing the contract. However, closing it without any communication may lead to misunderstandings.
  6. Watermarking or Restricted Access:

    • If you're concerned about the client using the delivered work without finalizing the project, you can consider watermarking or restricting access to certain files until the project is officially completed.
  7. Upwork Dispute Resolution:

    • If all else fails, and you believe you've fulfilled your end of the agreement, you can consider reaching out to Upwork Support for guidance. They may be able to assist in resolving the situation.
  8. Learn from the Experience:

    • Take this experience as a learning opportunity. In future contracts, consider setting clear milestones, deadlines, and terms for revisions to avoid similar situations.

Ultimately, the decision to be more patient or close the contract depends on your comfort level, the terms of the initial agreement, and the importance of the project to your overall workload and business. If in doubt, seeking guidance from Upwork Support can provide more insight tailored to your specific situation.


Hi Primož,


Thank you for reaching out to us. Could you please clarify if you have a Fixed price contract with the client? If so, please know that freelancers are advised to use the submit work link next to the funded milestone on the contract details page to share work with their clients and, at the exact moment, request payment. Once you submit work and request payment, the client will have 14 days to review it and approve or ask for changes. If they take no action in 14 days, the funds in Escrow will be released to you. You may read more about Fixed-Price Protection here.


~ Nikola
Community Member

Hi Nikola,

Yes, I have a fixed contract and I am aware of the option of submitting the work and sort of forcing a client to respond. It is hard to decide when the patience stops and what to do next. Anyway, thanks for some tips.


Community Member

Your profile is private, what's the product?


If you really prefer to end the contract, you can do so with a friendly note informing the client that they don't have ownership of the product. If the client is still using it, can this help? 

Community Member

Thanks, Radia, this is helpful to know.

Community Member

I understand from your message that it is fixed price project and you have delivered initial requirement. There are couple of things important in Fixed price contract which must be baselined such work scope and committed deliverable. Moreover you need to look into client vision and try to understand their perspective by talking to them. The simple reason being that they are building the product and they might have some delay in investment or other financial approval.


 I will suggest to relook at the contract and also look from future scope perspective. If you find that the client is looking for long term committment but  waiting for some approval then it is worth waiting. Also you can discuss with client to release partial payment (This as per the UW process - Client can release the partial payment if he think deliverable require some more work).. Just look at it from professional perspective and keep aside your personal feeling. At the end of day it is all business.


Community Member

I am looking at this strictly professionally and with possible future opportunities but it is hard to set aside personal feelings as you always sell yourself not just what you know.

Thanks for the perspective and let's hope this will have a happy ending 🙂

Take care.

Community Member

I would just submit for payment, with a note that you've exceeded the scope of the contract and if the client needs additional revisions you can discuss an additional milestone. In the same communication, you could mention that you are willing to sell the work done so far to the client for the amount of this milestone, with a polite reminder that the client has no rights to the product until payment is made. 


I don't know what your relationship with the client has been like, so you may want to take a softer approach, but stick to the key point that the client must pay you the amoount previously agreed if he chooses to keep the product.

Asking for timely payment for your work is not "begging." It's running your business responsibly.

Community Member

As well as what Tiffany suggests, it's wise – pretty much contractually essential – to break down your project scope into a series of incremental deliverables starting with a Proof of Concept. 


In this model, the PoC is your first paid milestone. Then if the client wants more, you deliver a series of milestones which implement additional scoped functionalities; package these clearly per milestone and include the list of new functionalities with the scope, and have the client accept & pre-fund the milestone.


Ensure that you're building either an MVP or a new version in a short number of milestones (realistically you need time for testing, data migration, release activities etc. etc., and these activities also need covering through milestones).


If the client wished to be in receipt of a fully-functional product, they'd have to accept your work submissions against the agreed milestones (which is how they should be submitted on a fixed-price contract, and not in any other way), and to then fund and activate the next one.


If the freelancer doesn't submit work against milestones, they give the client every freedom to play dumb to commercial obligations & realities (essentially because the freelancer has not had the conviction to create an inarguable & workable commercial reality – which needs to be done at the outset and maintained & updated as the project progresses).


The freelancer needs to show leadership and ensure this is done, as clients often do not know of these matters, and you really don't want to tempt their self-interest by giving them the ability to play dumb.

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