Can my former employer sue me without first sending a cease and desist or warning to take images that I signed my rights away to off of my portfolio?

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Can my former employer sue me without first sending a cease and desist or warning to take images that I signed my rights away to off of my portfolio?

I unknowingly signed away any rights to display the work I created without the employer’s consent, who is the owner of said work. My portfolio is strictly being used to find full time employment and not intended to represent a business. Can he still sue me for money? Does he have to give me the opportunity to take them down first? Also does a disclosure noting the work is the property of theirs and not mine help in anyway?

Asked on August 6, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In reverse order:

1) The disclosure does not help at all. If someone else has the intellectual properety rights and you do not, you have no right to use thei material, even if you credit ownership correctly.

2) They most likely cannnot receive monetary damages if you did not profit and they did not suffer a loss as a result of your actions, though if they officially registered the copyright or trademark (e.g. with the PTO), they would have some ability to seek monetary damages even in the absennce of harm.

3) It's common to send a cease and desist notice before resorting to litigation, but it is not actually mandatory.


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