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Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC), Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 8435
Experience:  Worked closely with the Intellectual Property areas of a law firm and a major U.S. corp.
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We are a small web design company and in mid-2004 purchased

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We are a small web design company and in mid-2004 purchased a template from a national distributor. The template came with a document stating that all images were properly licensed. Recently our client received a notice from Masterfile stating that held the copyright for one image used on a back page of the site and is demanding $4000 (the site was $500). Our client provided the license agreement that came with the template along with the name of the distributor and the template developer. Masterfile claims that doesn't matter and our client is still liable for the collection amount. We now believe that the license agreement was not accurate but we and our client acted in good faith. Our client is upset with us and neither of us know what to do now.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Jane T (LLC) replied 8 years ago.



Did the template your purchased come with any indemnification agreements through which the company that sold it said if any lawsuits were brought against the user or buyer of their programs they would reimburse them for the costs?



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
No, in fact the agreement states that the template was sold in good faith and the purchaser agrees not to hold them liable for just about anything.
Expert:  Jane T (LLC) replied 8 years ago.



A violation of a copyright that has been obtained over an image or other writing, etc. is protected from unauthorized use or promotion. The fact that any unauthorized use may have occured without intent or without knowledge that any wrong was being committed will not remove liability from any party (see here and here for a discussion of this). Also, all parties involved in such action may be liable to the party who owns the copyright individually and, any party who sells an item with a copyright infringement may also be liable to the party who buys it for any harms they suffer.


However, the fact that there was no intent to infringe on anyone's rights may allow there to be a negotiation of what the liability is or should be. Any such discussion should normally include statements regarding a release of all potential claims after the settlement is made so that no further action can occur. These matters are difficult to argue without properly without proper legal representation and it may be best for both you and your client to seek legal help to resolve both of your issues with this company that claims to be the copyright owner. Ownership of the copyright should be properly investigated to see who, in fact, is the proper owner or if it is even owned. An attorney who works in intellectual property, whom you hire in your state, can help you work through this issue and provide you with information to help you avoid it in the future. Although the agreement for the sale form the company you purchased from contained a statement relieving them of liability it is possible, if they in fact claimed full ownership, that their statement of ownership may have been a fraud which may allow you to sue them for liability (but that will depend on state court interpretations).



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