If a company takes my design work and uses it, does it still have topay for the product provided even if I’m not hired?

UPDATED: Dec 4, 2011

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If a company takes my design work and uses it, does it still have topay for the product provided even if I’m not hired?

I did some work for an investment firm while waiting for a business deal to go through and be hired. The deal fell through but they still took my work and used it. Are there grounds to get them to pay me?

Asked on December 4, 2011 under Business Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the circumstances:

1) If you were paid for the work, whether as an employee or an independent contractor, then most likely no...in that event, it was a work for hire done for them, and they own the rights.

2) If the work was done explicitly as part of the negotiations for the business deal--e.g. to show them what  you were capable of; or as something they'd have if they hired you--then they probably cannot use it without your permission after the deal fell through.

The specific facts are critical; in particular, it's important to review the correspondence, agreements, etc. between you and the company, particularly as pertains to the design work. You should bring all correspondence, etc. to an attorney who can review it, and the circumstances, in detail and advise as to your rights.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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