By: Lori T. Williams, Owner/Managing Attorney of Your Legal Resource
Can you be replaced in the eyes of your clients, employer, or co-workers? Or can someone else use your company name or logo or tag line?
While copyrights, trademarks, and patents are intended to protect intellectual property, the protection is not necessarily bullet proof, or lawsuit proof. Someone may try to steal the idea, name, product, song or website that you’ve created and protected. That’s why intellectual property litigation is such a hot area of the law. Obtaining the protection is only one part of the process. Defending intellectual property is another process. We’ve all heard of songwriters being sued by other artists or their families, claiming lyrics or music was used on the new song without permission of the prior artist. (See outcome of the litigation over the song “Happy” where Marvin Gaye’s family prevailed in protecting the original artist’s rights. See Ed Sheeran’s successful outcome in a copyright infringement suit).
What about your brand? Could you leave your firm, company, or other place of business and take the clients with you? Are they loyal to you because of your brand, or the company or firm you work for? Something to think about. In this day and age, no one’s job or brand is bullet proof. The stronger your relationships with your clients/”fans”, the more muscle you have in any legal or business dispute. However, if you signed certain legal documents that the clients belong to the company, not you as the person who serviced those clients or brought them to the company, that’s a key issue in the employer’s favor. While no one can force the client to stay with the company if you leave, there may be financial consequences to you or the client (depending on legal documents involved) if you wish to take the clients with you.
Or if the company owns any creative thing you generate while at the company, and you try and claim it as your own intellectual property, the company will likely prevail absent some written legal agreements to the contrary.
If you find yourself in need of legal advice because of an employment dispute, or an intellectual property infringement issue, or other legal issue in Michigan, contact us for a free consultation. We can connect you with an affordable specialist for your situation.