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?

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

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 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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