Adding Electronic Signatures to Contracts

If you want to know more about what’s involved in adding an electronic signature to a contract, I suggest that you look at this post by Dennis Kennedy. In addition to links to some useful background information, it includes a link to a post by Adobe’s Rick Bornstein on creating and using signature stamps in Adobe Acrobat.

My interest in electronic signatures is that of a bystander: given what I do, I have no need for the technology. If you use or have used electronic signatures, I’d be interested to hear what your experience has been.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

3 thoughts on “Adding Electronic Signatures to Contracts”

  1. Images of your handwritten signature are easily copied electronically. There’s no way to protect it from copying once it’s displayed on someone’s computer (simple image capture using imaging software) or when printed and then scanned back in.

    Once you have the image, you can then paste it into as many different documents as you want — for electronic look-alikes, or for then printing back onto paper documents.

    You might do well to read:

    Good luck!

  2. Although it’s a distinction I’m not sure all would necessarily recognize, I’d distinguish Dennis’ discussion of how to take an electronic document and ‘sign’ it by application of some technology such as Adobe’s versus a discussion of so-called ‘electronic contracts’ (e.g., the ubiquitous click-through agreement).

    When I saw the original headline about ‘signing contracts electronically’ I immediately presumed Ken was going to discuss the latter subject, not
    the former. (Ken later changed the headline to clarify the point.)

    My take: From a purely legal perspective, the Adobe technology is not all that interesting — It’s just a better pencil, not a paradigm shift.

    That said… I note that ‘signature’ under the UCC, UETA, eSign and many other statutes, does not require anything so elaborate as Adobe’s system to be a ‘signature’ for legal purposes. Simply typing X at the bottom of an email, so long as it is intended by the person who did that X’ing to be his signature, makes it legally a ‘signature.’ Adobe’s contribution to the technology does not make it any more of a ‘signature’ — It might add to a third-party’s potential willingness to ACCEPT that as so-and-so’s signature, but it doesn’t alter the legal status of something as having been a signature.

    In other words, what’s a ‘signature’ is purely an investigation into the intent of the purported signer, and not of the technology (or lack thereof) used to create that signature.

  3. One of the suggetions that I was told about the copying of electronic scanned signatures was to minimize the scanned in signature, save it, and then blow it up larger so that it looked fuzzy or distorted. The idea was that if it was re-used it would be obvious to any third party that it was not a proper signature. I am hesitant about using the signature nevertheless, even with these measures, even though some customers are requesting e-filing of competitive bid documentation.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.