by Kim Lavine
My designer saw money—lots of money—and decided he wanted a share of his own. Money didn’t change me, because I was working so hard to pay all the bills while using what capital I had to fund my growth, but it sure changed everyone around me.
He wanted to be a part of my forward movement. He had started to show up at my kiosks, taking unauthorized pictures of them and my employees. I had asked him to help me redesign my website, giving him a nice down payment, and he delivered his first sub-par work, demanding full payment on the balance outstanding--$10,000--without even working with me to fix what was wrong.
He started on work I hadn’t authorized and I asked him to stop. He started calling me twenty times a day, demanding that I pay him in full for the web design he hadn’t even done.
How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
I called the first attorney I had ever met with, because I didn’t know anybody else at this time who did general law. He was what I call a “bulldog,” gruff and aggressive. If anybody could stop the harassment with one phone call, he could.
Using Independent Contractors
The designer now claimed that he owned every bit of collateral he had ever made for me, including my trademark Wuvit, because he had copyrighted everything in his name when he made it.
This is an excellent illustration of why you need to execute a contract prior to working with any designer stating that all materials they produce for you are your property exclusively, and a Purchase Order is that contract.
Even though I had such an agreement with him, he threatened to steal all my intellectual property and end my ability to do business. I had just made a lot of money and this designer was telling me I would never be able to make it again, because he owned everything. My attorney attempted to contact him, then he proceeded to email my attorney twenty times a day, and my attorney was billing me for this. I asked my attorney to stop talking to him, to talk directly instead to the designer’s attorney, but he refused. Finally the attorney quit, accusing me of micro-managing him, then sent me an astronomical bill wrapped in a thirty-six page email sent by the designer. The whole fiasco eventually ended up in Small Claims Court, where the case brought against me was dismissed as baseless.
Nothing can stop people from bothering you with nuisance lawsuits. Still, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself legally right at the beginning of a professional relationship.
An excerpt from MOMMY MILLIONAIRE
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