Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Iowa


In Aug 2010 I presented an idea and design overview to a software programmer, after his father(my uncle) encouraged us to work together. Formal terms didn't make it to paper but we worked on a 50:50 equity basis. Over the course of the project, I contributed idea, concept, industry knowledge, workflow, user design as well as managed the project. Externally I managed prospect/client interactions, marketing and sales.

There's much more to the story(development delays, no centralized control of the work product or code, no demo enviro for sales efforts, etc). Despite my efforts to go to the cloud and gain equal access to the code, he resisted for 'cost saving reasons'.

During the last 7 months, stalled efforts continued. More specifically in Dec/Jan-2012 he wrote indicating he was 'willing' to work on an hourly basis to complete the product assuming he would receive back pay for 16 months work. Until this communication, the joint effort was building equity in the product and ROI only came in the form of sales. Selling an unfinished product once was a feat and I no longer felt comfortable selling concept. My instincts were right.

Our exchanges via email, call notes, project notes clearly show joint copyright exists. A local attorney concurred; on that basis he cannot hold the code hostage. Further if I could show an employee status, he would not own the code at all. His conveniently re-characterizing the terms and relationship, while holding the software hostage, further inhibited the ability for either to profit.

What can be done to exercise my rights? A demand letter was issued; no response except "I'll review this and get back with you" to my attorney. Days tick by and my frustration mounts.

If this were only a potential lawsuit on principle, I would not be writing.

Asked on 3/02/12, 12:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Luedeman solo practitioner

You said "a letter was issued by your attorney." Pay attention to what your attorney says.

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Answered on 3/05/12, 5:43 am

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