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I was recently invited to Las Vegas, Nevada (by a friend who

I have known for the...
I was recently invited to Las Vegas, Nevada (by a friend who I have known for the last few years) to be the lead graphic and web designer for an up and coming Club promotion and advertising company (entertainment). For the record I went to Las Vegas during the beginning of June but talks of me being part of the project started during February of that year (5 months before). There were 2 sectors being developed, one in Las Vegas, NV and one on Long Island, NY. They wanted me in Las Vegas. Before I arrived some terms were established and a contract was drafted. There was no pressure for me to sign the contract. Because we were friends I was given the opportunity (time) to allow others to review the contract before agreeing on it but I went against my own design guidelines and started designing for them to meet pressured deadlines. The only reason I agreed to start designing and doing work for this situation, before any contractual agreement was established, is because I knew the people. I never said that this contract was out of negotiation and solidified, because when It came down to it I never signed it, and I’m happy with my choice. Part of the agreement for me uprooting and moving all the way out to Las Vegas (from NY, my native residence) was that my friend said I could live with him, that he would supply food, supply a car with gas, and take care of special needs if they arose. Basically this was to make me comfortable, because when it came down to it, I was not getting paid upfront for anything and I was investing my time, energy, work and the plain fact that I moved across the country for them after turning down many other business offers. Needless to say some personal matters arose in my life and I had to leave Las Vegas after residing there for a month. I was told that If I didn’t return in 8 days ( 1 week plus 1 day for travel ) that my “pay” was going to be docked $240 dollars a day off my proposed salary ( keep in mind I hadn’t made any money yet and I was already being docked on my imaginary salary). In essence I watched the 2 “bosses”, form the verbal employee handbook as they went. Since there was only 3 people in the company, the rules really only applied to and for me. During this 8 day “vacation” as they so called it I was given an opportunity to clear things up in my life, work on other projects that I was promised and told to do, and take a break from this company. During those days I had a chance for people to give me more feedback on the contract. Everyone I spoke to said it wasn’t a safe or fair contract. I told the 2 “bosses” whom constantly played good cop bas cop with me. They felt like they were offering enough and felt betrayed. The 8 days passed and my issues were not resolved yet and required me to stay at home longer. My pay began to dock according to them. Another issue rose and I was unable to communicate with them for a few days. They didn’t like this and saw it as a direct attack and created an ultimatum. They offered me a lump sum of money for the designs that I created thus far and told me “it was in the best of both of our interests that you not work on the project any longer”. I said OK, that’s fine. I was pleased with the amount they offered considering it was a fraction of fraction of what they originally offered. I knew what my service and design was worth but they did not budge. I said “that’s fine you do not have to use my work but please respect my intellectual property and ideas”. They said “ Ok were just going to start from scratch”. I told them I was fine with that, I was not trying to start any type of legal battle because from what I thought they were still friends. After I left Las Vegas, I remembered I left some belongings at my friend’s house. I left an iPhone car charger, an insurance letter, and a notebook with all of my sketches and ideas in. I asked them to mail it to me and take note of the cost and that I would mail them a check for the amount it cost to ship. They didn’t respond for a week and I felt like it was a direct retaliation of my miscommunication that they were offended by due to my personal issue. After trying to contact them on multiple occasions I finally got a hold of them and asked them to remove a design from their website that I had put up for them after they asked me to. They both told me that the image was going to stay up and that they felt after doing me the favor of inviting me out to Las Vegas and “wasting their time and money” they acquired my designs in the process. They told me to speak with their lawyers. So as of right now this is my predicament. I am looking for some advice of what I should do. I don’t physically have a copyright to my work but know that Its legally bound to me automatically. Copyright law has stated that I have 3 months after going public to copyright my material. I have about a month left to do so and I plan on copyrighting my material tomorrow actually. Should and can I sue for copyright infrigment
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Answered in 32 minutes by:
8/1/2011
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 119,583
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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If you have not been paid for your designs then you would still be the owner for them. If you did take their settlement offer (absent any written contract to the contrary) then the works would be considered works for hire. You can file for your copyrights and if you have not been paid you would be able to pursue them for infringement, but if they did pay you for them then you have to prove how they were not works for hire in order to succeed in any legal action.


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Customer reply replied 6 years ago

 

Their argument is as stated:

 

They supplied all of these incentives to get me out there (Las Vegas from New York) and think that’s a "fair exchange" for my service. Although it was a generous and nice gesture, would that argument actually hold water in court? Granted my visit did cost them money, and I feel bad that the task went sour, it doesn't justify their illegal act, am I correct? What kind of complications would I have If I had to sue. The business was done in Las Vegas, NV. It was for 2 registered sub corporations under one corporation (one in NY, one in NV). Would I sue each corporation? Both CEO’s are infringing my designs across the board. Can I even sue a corporation that doesn't have money? Can I just go after the CEOs? If you could answer of few of these questions I would really appreciate it, Thank you.

 

Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Relist: Other. Im looking for a little more in depth advice regarding my recent query. Thanks.
I am sorry for the delay in responding, thank you for your patience. Incentives are not pay and without you having that signed contract, the incentives are not generally sufficient to claim a work for hire. You would have to sue whichever corporation is infringing and the CEO personally if they have personally taken this action against you, which may be both based on your description. You have to sue in the US District Court in NV, which is where all of this took place.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Thank you for the response! This information is helping a lot, I appreciate it and will accept shortly. I just have a few more questions if you don't mind. I plan on sending them both Cease and Desist letters to try and scare them away. If that doesn't work I will have to end up suing them, which I don't really want to do but If it needs to be done to protect my work and property, than it has to be done. During an infringement case does the plaintiff (me) sue for lump sum that would pay for the actual service or do they initially get charged for copyright infringement under federal law and the sum is decided by the judge? Is there any way of figuring out just so I can measure whether I'll lose money by perusing such a case? Thanks again, I think were almost done!
You charge them under the federal statute for copyright infringement and seek up to the $150,000 per violation provided for under the law. However, actually predicting what the courts will award is something attorneys really avoid doing because most times there is simply no accurate way to do so.
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 119,583
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Law Educator, Esq. and 87 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Thank you Joe for all the responses, Im still trying to understand how this website works but I believe I have a free 30 day subscription now available. If new questions arise may I still ask you them accordingly regarding this issue? Thanks again!
Yes, you may ask for me. As far as the subscription, I have no way of knowing about that and you would need to click on the "Help" link at the bottom of the home page to contact customer service about it.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
On a sidenote:

What happens if the alleged party trys to copyright or trademark (register) my work?
You would have to file an objection with the trademark office or copyright office. However, you should file for the copyright now and try to beat them to it.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
What type of attorney am I specifically looking for?
You would need an intellectual property law attorney to go after them for your property.
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