Suing a Licensing Agent

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 What Is a Licensing Agent?

A Licensing Agent is a person who is employed to handle and manage the usage rights to a business’ copyrighted or protected material. They are acquainted with a broad spectrum of laws, such as advertising, marketing, and infringement.

A licensing agent can be employed independently, although they often work under the supervision of a more prominent licensing agency or firm.

What Do They Do?

Licensing agents often act as a mediator or go-between for a business customer and a third party that wants to use the company’s logo or products. For example, imagine that a chocolate company is immediately recognizable due to its trademark logo. Suppose a milk company wants to use its chocolate and logo for a chocolate milk product. The chocolate business may wish to hire a licensing agent to handle the copyright matters in that circumstance.

In addition to these services, a licensing agent can be responsible for the marketing and advertising campaign for the product or services. Therefore, licensing agents need to be trained in various skills.

How Do Licensing Agents Collect a Fee?

Licensing agents usually form a working contract with their client, whether a business, artist, or individual seeking their assistance. The licensing contract will dictate such terms as:

  • Who can or can’t have licenses to use the client’s material
  • Whether the agent will also engage in advertising and marketing of the client’s product
  • How the agent is to be paid
  • Whether the payment will be based on the product’s performance in the marketplace
  • Any other essential conditions, such as the availability of alternative ways to settle conflicts

What Are Some Points to Consider When Suing a Licensing Agent?

In some circumstances, legal conflicts can emerge between businesses and their licensing agent. It may be necessary to file a lawsuit to use the licensing agent for damages or lost profits in such circumstances.

When using a licensing agent, some legal issues to consider include:

  • Whether the agent is working independently or under an agency (you may need to sue the agency if that is the case)
  • Whether you desire to preserve a working relationship with the agent even after the lawsuit – this may be alluring if there is a long working history with the agent
  • Assembling all critical evidence that is pertinent to the legal dispute, such as copies of the logo/material; agreements between you and the agent; any subcontracts with third parties; any witness testimony

You should comprehend that most of your legal claims will likely be based on the terms written in the working contract between you and the agent. This highlights the significance of having a written contract from the outset of the business endeavor.

When Should You Sue?

Before filing a lawsuit, you need to determine a few things about your potential case.

You need to answer three basic questions as part of determining whether it’s advantageous to bring a lawsuit to court:

  • Do I have a sound case?
  • Am I pleased with the notion of a compromise settlement or going to mediation?
  • Assuming a lawsuit is my most useful or only option, can I collect if I win?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you likely won’t want to sue.

Do I Have a Good Case?

As long as you understand the elements for your type of lawsuit, it’s usually relatively straightforward to determine whether you have a good case. For instance, a lawsuit against a contractor for doing substandard construction would be for breach of contract (because the contractor agreed either orally or in writing to do the assignment correctly). The legal elements for this type of lawsuit are as follows:

  • Contract formation: You must demonstrate that you have a legally binding contract with the other party. This element is elementary to demonstrate if you have a written agreement. Without a written contract, you will have to establish that you had an enforceable oral (spoken) contract or that an enforceable contract can be implied from the circumstances of your situation.
  • Performance: You must verify that you did what was demanded of you under the contract terms. Assuming you have made agreed-on payments and otherwise cooperated, you should have no problem with this element.
  • Breach: You must demonstrate that the party you plan to sue failed to meet its contractual obligations. This is usually the core of the case – you’ll need to verify that the contractor was unable to do agreed-on work or did work of unacceptably inadequate quality.
  • Damages: You must demonstrate that you suffered an economic loss due to the other party’s breach of contract. Considering the work must be redone or finished, this element should also be relatively direct to prove.

The legal elements for other types of lawsuits are different.

Is There an Alternative?

If you determine you have a reasonable case, don’t run down to the courthouse to file a lawsuit. Rather, consider ways to resolve your dispute out of court. You can speak directly with your opponent and try to arrange a mutually advantageous compromise.

Or you can employ a mediator – a neutral third person who will aid you and your competition assess your objectives and prospects to locate a solution that works for everyone. Also, and primarily if your contract provides for it, you may be able to submit your dispute to binding arbitration.

Can I Collect if I Win?

Your answer to the third question is critical. There is no point in obtaining a court judgment against a deadbeat. While most respected companies and people will pay you what they owe, they can’t pay you if they don’t have it. If your adversary tries to stiff you, you may be in for a fight. Unfortunately, the court won’t collect your funds for you or even deliver much support; it will be up to you to determine the assets you can seize.

Typically, the collection is not challenging if an individual works or owns valuable property, such as land or investments. You can order your local law enforcement agency (usually the sheriff, marshal, or constable) to embellish that person’s wages or attach their non-exempt property.

You can authorize your local sheriff or marshal to collect your judgment right out of the cash register for a thriving business, especially one that receives cash directly from customers. And in many states, if you are using a contractor or other business person with a state license, you can apply to have the license discontinued until the judgment is paid.

However, if you can’t determine any collection source – for instance, dealing with an unlicensed contractor of highly questionable solvency – think twice before suing. A judgment will not be significant to you if the company or person is insolvent, goes bankrupt, or vanishes.

Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Need Help Suing a Licensing Agent?

As with any legal claim, suing a licensing agent can be complex. It’s in your best interests to hire a lawyer when suing a licensing agent. An experienced entertainment lawyer in your area can help you file the documents and assist with other tasks such as reviewing the contract terms. Also, you may wish to hire a lawyer early on during the negotiation stages with the agent to avoid legal disputes in the long run.

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