Economic Rights

San Francisco Commercial Attorney Asserts Your Economic Rights

Accomplished trial lawyer manages complex litigation

Legal and social theorists love to debate economic rights, but the bottom line is this: sometimes you have no choice but to invoke your rights under the law to protect your economic interests.  Often people and companies rely upon written agreements to govern who gets the economic benefit of invested capital or your blood, sweat and tears. Other times people or companies try to take unfair advantage of those valuable rights.  Through more than 35 years of practice, I have helped individuals and corporations assert their economic rights in a wide variety of circumstances. Many of the cases I’ve managed have been complex, high-value disputes, but I’ve also had success and derived much personal satisfaction from helping individuals and startups whose rights had been trampled by powerful interests.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement — Copyright law protects original works that have been reduced to a fixed medium – the copyright comes into existence at the time the works are in a fixed medium (could be on paper, on film, digital recording etc.)

  • If you created your work with another person or entity, then each of you is an owner of the copyright and both of you have the right to exploit the copyright with a duty to account to the other for any profits. There can be no copyright infringement claims between joint owners.
  • If you have licensed or entered into a contract covering your original work and a dispute arises, your rights may be governed by contract law or by copyright law (see contract disputes below).
  • If the person or entity using your works is a stranger to your copyright, then in order to enforce U.S. Copyrights, however, they must be registered with the United States Copyright office. Generally, works that are registered within the first three months of publication qualify for extra protection including statutory damages from ($750 to $150,000) and the possibility of recovery of attorneys’ fees.

The law is rapidly changing on what constitutes fair use of copyrighted materials.  I have the expertise and experience to advise you of your rights and pursue actual copyright infringements.  I have represented companies, musicians, authors, artists, graphic designers in pursuing copyright infringers.  Often copyright infringements are resolved by a license agreement.

Violation of Trade Secret Rights

Trade secret violation — Disputes over Trade Secrets generally come in two different forms.

  • First, trade secret owners need to share those trade secrets in order to seek additional business opportunities or to seek additional financing or partners. Often these secrets are shared with an understanding of confidentiality and/or written Nondisclosure agreements.  Disputes arise when the person or entity with whom the Trade Secret is shared takes advantage of the confidential information beyond what the parties agreed.
  • Second, trade secret disputes arise when former employee’s business partners or others with knowledge of the trade secret leave to join another company or start their own business. Disputes arise as to whether the former insider is taking advantage of the trade secret without any right to do so.  These disputes often include claims that the Trade Secret is in fact not a secret, was not kept confidential or is part of general public knowledge.

Trade Secret owners who have taken the right steps to protect their confidential information enjoy certain protections under California law.  I can help you evaluate your rights and take action to protect your Trade Secrets.

Unauthorized Use of Likeness or Image

If your image or likeness has been used commercially on a product in California without your permission, I can help you protect your rights.  With the internet, often the product is a digital one offered for sale.  For celebrities, rights in their likeness or image under California law pass to their heirs upon death.  I have successfully pursued unauthorized use of celebrity images on behalf of individuals, celebrities and their families.

Breach of Contract License Agreements

In more than 35 years of practice, I have managed complex business and commercial litigation for numerous Fortune 500 companies, as well as small Silicon Valley startups. Whether you are a business or an individual, I have the experience to represent you in contract disputes ranging from business and commercial contract, License agreements to entertainment agreements. I can advise you on your legal options and develop a strategy for achieving the proper remedy, which might include:

  • Compensatory damages — Amounts that the breaching party pays to the non-breaching party to cover losses due to the breach
  • Punitive damages — Amounts the court may order under certain circumstances if the breaching party’s conduct is particularly egregious
  • Liquidated damages — Amounts the contract requires to be paid in the event of a breach
  • Specific performance — A rare equitable remedy, where the court orders the breaching party to fulfill its promise under the contract
  • Rescission and restitution — The court relieves both parties from their obligations under the contract, while ordering the breaching party to reimburse the non-breaching party for the cost of partial performance
  • Reformation — The court, noting that the contractual language does not reflect what the parties’ agreed to, rewrites the contract in more precise terms

I also provide vigorous defense representation for parties accused of breaching contracts. Whether a breach occurred is a question of fact to be determined by a judge or jury. However, short of a trial, it is often possible to settle a contract dispute through negotiation, arbitration or mediation. When you retain my service, you get the benefit of my experience, my negotiation and trial skills, and my passion in pursuit of your best possible outcome.

If you have suffered from or are accused of copyright infringement, violation of trade secret rights or agreements, unauthorized use of your likeness or have suffered economic harm due to a breach of a license agreement, business or commercial contract, I can provide the legal assistance you need. Remedies include monetary damages for the economic harm you’ve suffered, as well as injunctive relief to end the offending behavior.

Contact Fergus, A Law Office to protect your economic rights

A contract dispute can severely hamper your business pursuits. I can help you achieve an effective resolution that protects your rights. To schedule a consultation to discuss your case, call Fergus, A Law Office at 415.537.9030 or contact my San Francisco office online to schedule a consultation.