Did they steal my work?

Let me pose a hypothetical situation:

I hand-produce a very specific type of pen and ink design. I have sold my originals to friends and acquaintances who have them hanging in their houses. A graphic designer went over to one of these houses and saw my work. This designer liked it so much that we went into negotiations for me to make some similar designs for t-shirts for the company this designer works for. After I stated that I would want to retain copyright of my work and be paid a very small percentage of t-shirt sales, our negotiation came to an end. I never heard back from the designer.

Jump forward in time 1 year and the company the designer works for has come out with a new t-shirt design that looks almost exactly like the work that I have been producing for years.

When confronted with this fact the company offered to pay me not to talk about what happened.

What would one do in a situation like that? What could one do?

Answer

I would look into counsel from a lawyer. When you visit a lawyer you need to make sure to provide what you have in writing. Do you have proof that these designs were under negotiations? Also, by proof I literally mean X company sent you an email saying we would like to discuss with you about X design. Do you have a contract or draft of a contract that was under negotiations and mentioned in an email of revisions or talks about it? If all these negotiations are verbal and you have no proof you will have a tough case. If you can prove they want to be hush hush in a form of an email you might have a case, but as stated, consult a lawyer. All this will depend on your area. Be prepared to know this will cost money to go to court and if you cant prove all of it without a reasonable doubt in civil court you will have a tough case. If you can prove the talks in writing and they still proceeded without you that may be a case there, but again.. contact a lawyer. If you can prove without a reasonable doubt and have solid proof in a written form you could sue in civil court (here in America).

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Source : Link , Question Author : hypothetical , Answer Author : lawndartcatcher

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