What can I do if I was going through the interview process, part of which was to handle a marketing campaign for a prominent company, and now they are using it but I haven’t been paid?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do if I was going through the interview process, part of which was to handle a marketing campaign for a prominent company, and now they are using it but I haven’t been paid?

I spent 3 weeks producing the campaign and was told I would be flown down for the interview. After several weeks they contacted me saying that my work was solid but they were looking for a candidate with new ideas. I never signed anything and the company never asked to use my work. The work I produced is now being used by this company. If I had to charge a client for this it would be upward of $40,000. Do they have the right to use my work? Can I go after them for the time and money I spent on this?

Asked on January 22, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

They cannot use your exact copy, graphics, artwork, etc., since that would violate your copyright; if they are using it, you could sue them for copyright infringement and receive compensation or "damages." (When you create a new original graphic or textual work, you get copyright in it even without registering it.) They would also be liable under the theory of unjust enrichment: it is unjust or unfair, in a way the courts will not let stand, for them to use your work without paying you.
But if they just used your idea, not your actual work, they can do that unless they signed a non-disclosure or similar agreement. The law does not protect ideas, only actual creative work.
To use an example: I can't take scene or lines from "The Force Awakens" to make my own science fiction films. But if three years ago, the director had told me that he was working on a big-budget film about a rebellion still fighting on after the evil emperor is dead and the son of the heros turning evil, I could have made my own science fiction or fantasy film based on that idea, as long as there no Jedi, lightsabers, wookies, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, etc. etc. in it.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption