If I designed custom illustrations for my company but an ex-employee is using them for monetary gain, do I have any legal rights?

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If I designed custom illustrations for my company but an ex-employee is using them for monetary gain, do I have any legal rights?

While I understand as an employee, those illustrations are now owned by them. Can an employee who went off on their own use my illustrations even if they are for the organization? She is getting a monetary gain as well as credit for those illustrations, do I have any legal leg to balance on?

Asked on May 26, 2015 under Business Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You say you designed the illustations? If you did, then even if the employee worked on them, they belong to you (or your company: you if the company was a d/b/a, the company if it was an LLC or corporation) as  a work made for hire and she has NO right to use them. She would be violating your (or your company's) trademark and/or copyright (all rights in works created by employees in the course of or for their employment belong to their employer). You could send her a "cease and desist" letter to start: if that doesn't work, you can sue her, seeking both an injunction (court order) forcing her to stop using the illustrations and/or seeking monetary compensation (such as the profit she made by using the illustrations).

 


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