I have a question.
Let’s say that a Company develops a Concept and hires a Vendor to build the Concept so that the Company can offer it to its clients as a value-added service. After some mild success utilizing the Concept, the Company engages the Vendor in a business partnership to develop the Concept for a larger market. Vendor agrees. After several months, business plan stagnates. Vendor breaks partnership and sells the Concept to an outside investor as their own IP.
My question is this – is this legal?
I’m currently engaged in a similar scenario I’m not the Vendor. The concept (which was never patented) is a mobile app (for iOS). I thought IP law was pretty clear in that ‘if you think it, you own it’ – especially considering the Vendor was paid in-full.
Side note – some people are just bad. Be careful who you do business with.
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Dec 28, 2011
Given this limited information, it sounds legal to me, unless the vendor’s action was against a contract you signed with him or her. “Non-compete clause” is the operative phrase you would need to have pre-included, I would imagine.
If he is integrating some of your own ideas into his new business model, there is where he is treading in murky waters both legally and ethically. Ideas are, by their very nature, hard to pin down to an original owner, no matter what the law says.
Bear with me while I wend my way towards a practical recommendation.
1. Philosophy is superior to the law, in my opinion, and my philosophy is that there is no such thing as an original thought. All thoughts are variations on previous ideas or combinations of previous ideas.
2. A spirit of generosity should pervade all success, and it should always be voluntarily enforced. A spirit of partnership, equality, and humility should pervade all business.
3. When generosity is not voluntarily enforced, the deserving parties should be assertive in claiming their just desserts.
If his/your concept is leading to a profitable deal, he should reward you voluntarily. If he does not, it is your right and your duty to yourself to assert your claim on his rewards.
So, my practical recommendation? Assume a positive attitude on your part and his part both. Approach him and say something to the effect of, “You seem to have found a profitable venue for our ideas. I’m ready to help. Let’s work out a fair and equitable payment schedule for the ideas we originated together.”
You gotta be bold, and you gotta be positive.
That is my instinct.
Dec 29, 2011
Jim, I’m no expert on the laws, but I think anyone with even a marginal sense of morality would be able to tell the difference between right and wrong in a case such as the one you describe. So sorry you have to go through this. My gut agrees with Will – stick to your guns in a positive way and see if you can’t bring this thing to an equitable close. Good luck!