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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9981
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I run a marketing and design company and am a copywriter. I

Customer Question

I run a marketing and design company and am a copywriter. I entered into a verbal and email agreement with a friend to help him launch a series of books/ebooks and other things. I hired an illustrator, took a word document and edited it and designed it into a 78 page book, finished the website and launched it. I had an email agreement that this would form the basic brand design for all future books for which I would have 30% share. We developed the brand name (lifelong movements) together from his working title. I put in over 70 hours work, used my design team etc and launched the product. We talked about future product options, sales, paperback version via a publisher. On the book it said design, editing etc were Helen Buteux and had an intro to my company in the book. 3 weeks ago the client came to my office and told me that he was dropping the brand. There was no interest in the books, no publisher deal, no support no money, no future books, no workshops. He was leaving the Navy to become a teacher/coach. I didnt believe him as his body language was so awful and he had previously sent me emails saying he had a PR team in place, he had a publisher interested, he had draft written the next 4 books etc. He wanted me to sign off the agreement, as there was "no future". I didnt. I didnt believe him. 3 weeks later he has launched a 78 page book under the same title, using the same design, just changing the illustrations, working with the illustrator I used, the same words pretty much (which were VERY different to the word document he wrote), and a new website promoting the other books, workshops etc from the brand. What are my options now? He lied to get me to off the agreement we had and is using my work to now sell his brand. Work that I was only paid for, at cost, and did not receive any payment for my time involved in this and another project as I was expecting royalties on this and future books. 30% and 20% on workshops and 10% on personal appearances. I am furious my work and time and design expertise has been reproduced and relaunched and I haven't therefore received anything for my investment and he lied about everything to try and get rid of me!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Your so called "friend" is in breach of contract. You have a binding contract with him either verbally or in writing via email and he can't just slide out of that contract without being accountable to you.

You can give him the opportunity to continue with the contract. If he refuses to do so you can sue him for damages. The measure of damages would be the cost of your time in doing everything you have done as per your narrative above in addition to which you can claim your losses based on loss of future income by way of royalties and other income.

I suggest that you immediately see a lawyer experience in media and intellectual property so that a claim can be intimated.

Happy to discuss further.

Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

On the front of the book it said copyright his other company ocean fitness though - as we had an agreement I didn't think it would be a problem. Just design editing and copy were me. The illustratir has now put design and editing against his name! Will this be an issue? The context and intent of our work together was to help him - I even came up with thname of the book and showed him how to trademark it to protect future books!!! I designed his logo also ... I feel stupid for letting him put copyright on the front but ..

Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
It doesn't matter who owns the copyright. Your claim is based on contract.

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