HI, I created an app for the iPhone and iPad. I hired a person who wrote the specifications for the app. I paid him $2000. We signed a nondisclosure contract. I then hired a technical coder this person new. I signed a contract with him and so did the person who wrote the specifications. This contract states the clients have the copy writes to the material created by the coder. When I signed it I did not realize he would have copy write ownership. I paid for all bills for the technical coder. I organized all meetings and made all decisions. I also hired an designer to do all the logos and all the page layouts for the app. I paid him too.I wrote all the wording for the app. I own the copy writes to the logos and design of every page of the app. I have my original and revised works.The person who did the specs cloned my app and is selling it in the app store. I would like to know what recourse I have in this situation. I would like to get his app out of the store. It is essentially identical to mine with a different logo and different name.Can I claim artistic design and written design copy writes and fight him stealing my idea and my app?Is the contract valid if he did not contribute to the payment of any of the development and it was always understood by all parties (coder and designer) I was purchasing the app? Any ideas about what I should do?Peggy
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Washington
consult with a copy write lawyer
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Without viewing the non-disclosure and other related documents, I can't say for certain, but it certainly appears that this is a "work for hire" situation, and that he was hired specifically to draft these things. In that, you can claim certain copyrights in those items. I would say that it is worth it to take the next step and seek legal assistance in this matter. That being said, you need to contact an attorney in your area that deals with breach of contract / intellectual property cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next.
If you have registered your copyright, you can seek an injunction against the continued infringement of this action. Even the filing of a lawsuit against them can have a temporary injunction against him and can order Apple to remove the app while the case is pending.
Note that you're going to have to have the copyright actually filed. But you can certainly claim a copyright in the creative elements of the app, and the fact that you paid for that would support the claims that you have to this copyright.
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One more question. If he and I signed the contract with the company that did the code does that mean he owns 50% of the code and copy writes to the code even though he didn't pay for this and that was not my intention in signing the contract? The contract says the copy write belongs to the clients and both he and I are named in the contract. It was always clear my company was hiring the coder not his company and I did not realize the contract allowed him any ownership.
Sorry for the delay, I was out of the office when you responded. As to your question, most likely not, especially if this contract specifically disclaimed it in another contract. Now it might be an issue to claim that in litigation, and that's why you need to take your specific contracts to an attorney to give you a better understanding of your rights given your specific contracts (as the answer depends entirely upon what is in those contracts) but I think that you do have a pretty good basis in your case, certainly enough to take it to the next level (seeking formal legal representation).
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Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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