If I made a logo as work for hire but was not paid for work, can I sue for infringement copyright?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If I made a logo as work for hire but was not paid for work, can I sue for infringement copyright?

I was hired as contract labor to take care of logo design and order processing for a company. However, after I produced logo and the business started using the logo, I was never paid yet they continued to use logo. Do I have a lawsuit?

Asked on August 28, 2016 under Business Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You don't have a lawsuit about the logo--if done as work made for hire, it belongs to them, unless you had a contract saying that in the event of nonpayment, ownership reverts to you. However, that does not mean that you don't have recourse: if you performed work and were not paid, you can sue for breach of contract (violation of the agreement, even if only an oral one, pursuant to which you worked in exchange for pay) to get the money they owe you. If the amount at stake is less than the maximum for small claims court, suing in small claims, as your own attorney ("pro se") to save on legal fees is a very good option.

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