How to determine the ownership of a website?

UPDATED: Jan 1, 2011

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How to determine the ownership of a website?

I created this website with my friend’s idea. At first, all he was saying was “when the time comes, we will incorporate and become a “business”. I wasn’t sure at first, but he promised me 49% of the shares. The website is not on-line and a couple of months ago, he came to me and said that the papers of the company have been made and that we were officially a company. My name is on those papers but I never signed anything and never really agreed to that. My question is, who does the website belong to? Me or the company? I want to sell it to him but he says he can make me end up with nothing.

Asked on January 1, 2011 under Business Law, New York


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Did you steal his idea or did he come to you and ask you to create the website using his idea?  Did he contract with you to create the site by offering you an ownership interest in the site?  In New York you can indeed incorporate a business over the phone or on-line and name the officers or owners of the company without signature.  If you in any way agreed to the offer, created the site and he then went ahead and incorporated based upon your alleged agreement then you may not have a leg to stand on to sell him anything.  I really think that you two should sit down with an attorney and discuss this agreement and what really transpired here.  Good luck to you.

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