Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Virginia

A friend did some work (research and analysis) for an acquaintance. There was a verbal agreement of payment of $200 upon: a) delivery of the work; and b) payment to the acquaintance by the end recipient of the totality of the work. My friend has not yet delivered the work to the acquintance because she has now stated that she may refuse to pay, and she is also demanding delivery of the work as she "owns" the intellectual property; although my friend is the primary author of the work. What laws exist around intellectual property ownership and authoring, paid/unpaid work, etc. that could guide my friend's actions and dealings with this acquaintance (who is acting very threatening).

Asked on 8/27/09, 3:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Michael E. Hendrickson Attorney & Counsellor at Law
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If the intellectual property product produced by the friend is to be considered copyrighted, it became so once it was "fixed" at the point it was created and no special forms need be filed

by the friend with the U.S. Patent Office to establish this status.

However, whether this work actually produced by this friend for the acquaintance in return for the latter's payment of $200 under the circumstances described remains unclear as to whether it would qualify as copyrighted material or have status as so-called "intellectual property" without further information regarding the nature of what was produced and the purpose of the oral contract(in my opinion).

One thing concerning this situation remains clear, however, which is that the acquaintance

has no basis for demanding the delivery of anything until she is ready to fork over the $200 to the friend.

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Answered on 9/03/09, 9:28 am

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