Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Payment for Assignment

Dear Rich: I assigned my copyright for a software app and was supposed to receive half the money up front and the other half within six weeks.  It's been four months and all I get from the company are promises. Can I revoke the assignment and assign it somewhere else? That depends on the agreement, as well as the state law that is used to interpret it. We think you're in a tough spot because revoking assignments requires dealing with issues like those raised in this recent Dear Rich response.
As a General Rule Dept. Signing an assignment for the “promise” of future payments always involves a risk. We used to have a client whose golden rules were, "Get as much as you can before signing the deal," and "Don't give any money back." One reason to get the money upfront is that if the assignee (the person who owes you the money) fails to pay you, you may be trapped in dispute resolution, fighting to get your copyright back. If the assignee insists on a series of payments, there are several solutions, such as establishing an escrow account, transferring partial assignments per payment, or setting up a license agreement that allows for ownership transfer after the final payment. This is a situation where you should consider contacting an attorney (and we hope your assignment agreement has an attorney fees provision).