Former partner is illegally using my IP


I've noticed a former potential partner of mine is using a logo, website design, and company description/mission that I created and retain full ownership of.

  1. Should I just send a simple email requesting he either take it down or pay me market rates for the IP? What should I do if he just ignores it?
  2. Should I include legal material, like a DMCA Takedown Notice?
  3. Or should I document the violation and wait, on the speculation that the violation, if it continues, could become more valuable to me in the future?

This IP is pretty basic: $750 cost to create.

More Details:

  1. The version he's using diminishes the uniqueness of my current website.
  2. He's now a competitor, even though it's unlikely our startups will directly affect each other.
  3. There were no contracts between us, and I created this IP on the speculation that our partnership would move forward. (It didn't.)
  4. Each of us is currently on a "Ramen budget" although our salaries when not doing startups are $100k (in California).

Copyright Intellectual Property

asked Mar 5 '12 at 19:04
Ashton M.
83 points
  • Have you considered, you know, calling him? – Nick Stevens 12 years ago
  • Just get a new logo, new website, etc and move on. And call him. Don't botehr with the lawyers - that's a waste of time and money in this circumstance. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Life is too short to worry about this. – Steve Jones 12 years ago

6 Answers


As several people commented, $750 is not worth going the legal way, certainly when you have no way to prove it.

While I can see how this could be irritating, Life's too short to spend time on this.Move on, and focus on your current endeavors.

answered Mar 7 '12 at 17:12
1,833 points


I'd talk this one through with a lawyer if I were you. The problem with sending the letter yourself is that you're potentially setting yourself up for an action for a "declaratory judgment" from your former partner. I'd go through your records to see what you can prove about who developed what and show that to the attorney -- it'd be a shame to pick a fight only to find out that your ex-partner is legally a "joint owner" that can do whatever he or she wants.

answered Mar 5 '12 at 22:37
Robert Blasi
142 points
  • This is the best answer. Talk to a laywer! What are people on this site going to tell you? Not that opinions aren't helpful. But if someone is stealing your IP. Talk to a lawyer. – Anagio 12 years ago
  • @Anagio - the cost of an attorney is going to be more than the cost to make the IP. This is a waste of time and money – Tim J 12 years ago
  • It costs very little to file in small claims court. From NYS "You will be required to pay filing fee of $15.00 if your claim is for $1,000 or less and a filing fee of $20.00 if your claim is more than $1,000." – Anagio 12 years ago
  • @Tim - It's up to Ashton to figure out whether it's worth pursuing or not. I'd bet that someone told the Winklevosses the same thing at some point. – Robert Blasi 12 years ago
  • @Robert - Really? You're comparing this guy with Facebook? But yes, you are right, it is up to him to decide. And I think it is folly to bother with an attorney - what a waste of time and money it would be. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • @Anagio - I don't think small claims will handle this kind of IP action - small claims deals with provable losses. He cannot prove any loss - and small claims will not handle IP rights. – Tim J 12 years ago


If you created the idea while the partnership existed, and then the partnership broke up later, he may rightfully have just as much claim to the IP as you do, depending on the legal form of the partnership and any agreements the two of you had.

answered Mar 6 '12 at 05:44
Mark Beadles
502 points


Have your lawyer send a cease and desist letter. This usually does the trick but be ready to follow through if you go down this road.

answered Mar 6 '12 at 00:07
670 points
  • For this little money and based on what the OP said about revenue that seems like a waste of time.. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Unbelievable I get a negative based on your inability to see this clearly. No matter what the money situation is if he wants his property to be unused by others he will need legal assistance. – Tim 12 years ago
  • Um - we're talking about $750 of work he is quibbling over - An attorney and follow up will cost far more than that. I stand by my down vote - and it appears I am not the only one. An analogy - if someone asked for help about how to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver my response would not be to help with doing that - it would be to tell him to use a hammer - not a screwdriver. Or to use a screw and screw in things with a screwdriver. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • I'll remove the downvote. But I still think this is bad advice. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • You can send your own C&D letter. There are two types ones from regular folks you, your lawyer etc. Yes you can send one yourself. Then court ordered C&D which come from Judges. So if you want write one up and mail it certified. It's not illegal its just not court ordered – Anagio 12 years ago


It is not that difficult to have his web site removed from the web, provided you can prove ownership and don't mind a possible legal battle latter. I'm not sure if it is worth it for $750. He can just get mad and sue you. Your resulting legal costs will well exceed that $750 figure.

However, if you want to have his web site removed from the web (and you meet the requirements for doing so), see my answer here at OnStartUps:

What you can do when someone blatantly plagerizes your web site.

answered Mar 6 '12 at 07:33
Gary E
12,510 points


It is not clear in your message is he 'former potential partner of mine' or 'former partner'.

If he is real former partner and you did not have any legal agreements why he can not claim the same rights on this as you do. Or he can claim the right on some other stuff you developed being together. In this case you probably can talk with him about IP ownership basing on contributions into that stuff. Sure thing he may not listen you.

He is your competitor and it is already a fight. If IP is worth 750$ it may be a waste of time to claim it. Just be better, provide new services and features, re-design your site etc.

answered Mar 7 '12 at 20:39
Activation Cloud
153 points

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