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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 10214
Experience:  I am a businesses law attorney, with experience advising and representing owners and investors.
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A former vendor contacted us with a letter stating they feel

Customer Question

A former vendor contacted us with a letter stating they feel we owe them additional money related to a software project they worked on that is not yet live, and they want us to NOT use what they claim is copyrighted material.
Their initial legal agreement stated partly that they maintain some copyright rights if they are not compensated in full.
We hired them, initially, to do some design and software programming. The first attempt at design did not go well so they had to redo it. They want to charge us for the redo. We don't feel we owe them for the redo since we've already paid them about 20% over the initial estimate.
We need to launch our software application and we spent a lot of time and money incorporating the designs they produced. If we don't launch, our company will go out of business.
They sent a threat of suit about 2 months ago but never filed. It would've been helpful if they had because then we would be able to settle this with all details. With that unknown, I went ahead and sent them a letter about a week-and-a-half ago asking them to respond with a DETAILED single case summary of exactly why they feel we owe them money and, additionally, why we shouldn't sue them for the $60K in overages to fix what they never finished.
I told them that we needed to launch the software on May 16th and if we did not hear from them by Friday, May 13th, we would need to move forward with the project and would consider their claims of copyright infringement to be without merit and the potential case against our company closed.
If they don't respond, do we have a good basis for moving forward and assuming their lack of response could prevent future suits and could possible by a way to achieve a summary judgement if they do?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.
Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.(This case is actually an excellent candidate for mediation, I would highly recommend it - you have two competing claims, a deadline coming up, and waiting for litigation to take its course will not suit either party. You can be represented by legal counsel in mediation, and you can retain a mediator that has experience in your field (software development and IP law if you believe it is worth the expense, or you can look for a mediator that simply has a little more "gravitas" - such as a retired judge - to help you bring this matter to a resolution.)
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.
A "Motion for Summary Judgment" is actually a lot further down the course of civil litigation and you are looking at something that is months to years out depending on the course of the motion practice and discovery in your civil suit.(The term can be somewhat misleading - but make no mistake, once you get into litigation, things get very expensive and take a long time to resolve).
Customer: replied 5 months ago.

A couple of months ago, after their initial claims, as requested mediation but their CEO said he would not go. But, he also said he was going to file suit, but hasn't. As I said in the above not, I can't wait for him to just not respond to messages. I need to close this issue.

Could I force mediation?

What I'm looking for is just something that I would be able to say to myself that the issue is closed and we can move forward? I can't hold up my entire company because they can't respond to letters or emails.

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.
You can file suit yourself, but as noted above, there isn't a quick fix to this.I would recommend retaining your own IP litigation attorney (specialist) on this issue (I know customers do not come to this site to be told "go hire a lawyer" - but I am trying to provide you with a way to get leverage to dissuade this company (CEO) from taking action that could potentially bog your company down in lengthy and costly litigation - the goal behind hiring counsel would be to draft your own demand letter from counsel to either demand that they back down, or push them towards mediation.(Also, you will want to carefully review your contract, if it contains any mediation or "alternative dispute resolution" provisions, you can invoke those clauses and potentially use them to try alternative routes. Unfortunately I have found that arbitration results in basically the same time and expense as traditional litigation, but it does at least keep you out of the court system and it may give you enough of a hook to force them into mediation and try to resolve the matter more quickly).-All of these are ways to try to give you a bit of leverage over this vendor.