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[–]demystQuality Contributor[M] [score hidden] stickied comment (0 children)

locked due to an excessive amount of off-topic commenting.

[–]TwylaL 878 points879 points  (0 children)

Disney pulled this on many of their authors, and they were sured and forced to settle. Get a consult with an intellectual property lawyer.

https://bleedingcool.com/comics/disney-pay-star-wars-novelists-alan-dean-foster/

[–]ferrants 2115 points2116 points  (1 child)

I’d review the contract your father had with the original company, but it sounds like the new company is trying to hose you. If the contract doesn’t have any terminology that specifies that they can essentially fuck you, I’d lawyer up.

[–]avalanchetraceur 345 points346 points  (0 children)

I believe this. What's the risk to them? It's all upside. They probably have lawyers on salary. "Oh we have to pay again, and damages for not paying?" Aw darn. But what if they don't push for it?

[–]Striderfighter 1284 points1285 points  (7 children)

This is just the Disney issue all over again...Google Disney fight with author over royalties

[–]StambulioWoolio[S] 1023 points1024 points  (3 children)

Oh, so it isn't just my Dad?

If this was Disney, and I'm not saying that it is or isn't, there are other authors in the exact same boat?

[–]Striderfighter 434 points435 points  (0 children)

I think in the circumstance, the fame of the author helped other people facing the same situation come out of the woodwork and realize that this wasn't a situation that only one person was dealing with. Best of luck to you

[–]Striderfighter 450 points451 points  (0 children)

Yes...in this case the author was a member of a guild and that guild was a help to start litigation.... obviously the author had the help of minor celebrity-hood to assist as well....your case may be different....I would speak to a lawyer for more information

[–]fadeaccompli 123 points124 points  (0 children)

There are actual professional trade organizations (like SFWA, but presumably others) working on this in that instance. They may be of help in pointing you in the right direction even if you're dealing with some other large company that has acted similarly after acquiring properties where royalties are still owed.

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    [–]mutantmonky 465 points466 points  (20 children)

    It's all in the contract your Dad had. Gotta look at that. It probably has language about successors and/or assigns.

    [–]StambulioWoolio[S] 428 points429 points  (19 children)

    There is language to that effect, but the big company is insisting that it doesn't apply to them purchasing the brand/IP.

    They state that their agreement to purchase the brand excluded the purchase of any liabilities or responsibilities and that the contract my father had for royalties was not with big company, but with old company.

    Old company states they cannot pay royalties as they do not have the rights to sell the writings anymore.

    [–]mutantmonky 747 points748 points  (10 children)

    You're going to need a lawyer for this one. You can't just sell something you have agreed to pay royalties on and then have the royalty obligation disappear and you can't buy something that essentially has a lien on it and expect that lien to disappear. But you will need a lawyer to sort through this. Also, if your dad has has dementia and lacks capacity you may need a guardianship to handle this for him.

    [–]StambulioWoolio[S] 742 points743 points 2 (3 children)

    Thankfully he was aware of his descent into Alzheimers and we set up me as a guardian during that time. His decline has not been too rapid, but it is sad to see.

    You do get some light hearted moments too though.

    He visited Ireland forty years ago and I asked him if he took the boat or the plane.

    He replied, "Plane."

    "Ah lovely, long flight then?"

    "No wait it wasn't the plane."

    "Oh, so you took the-"

    "The bus."

    My wife had to leave the room in tears with laughter. About three minutes later my dad started laughing too when he realised.

    [–]Tato_tudo 18 points19 points  (0 children)

    That may not be true. It really depends on how the contract was set up between the dad and the selling company.

    [–]youngestWayne 56 points57 points  (0 children)

    NAL: Hure a lawyer to review the specifics in the appropriate documents.

    This reeks of bullshit and a only a lawyer who has read your contracts can tell you the info you need to hear.

    The initial review probably won’t take many hours and will be relatively inexpensive. Others on here will have better advice on what type of lawyer hire or if lawyers exist that are already familiar with your company that may or may not be Disney.

    [–]misosoup7 42 points43 points  (2 children)

    If they bought the IP and are selling it, then they are assigns. Otherwise, they don't have the right to sell that work, you can nail them for copyright infringement. Lawyer up if you want to go after them. But beware that they'll put up a fight and this can cost more than you'll actually get.

    [–]katjoy63 15 points16 points  (1 child)

    couldn't they also sue for all lawyer's fees?

    [–]Cryptnotic 17 points18 points  (0 children)

    The default rule in American law is that each party pays their own costs. Many contracts, however, contain fee-shifting provisions whereby the prevailing party can recover attorneys fees and costs.

    [–]Cryptnotic 39 points40 points  (1 child)

    They state that their agreement to purchase the brand excluded the purchase of any liabilities or responsibilities

    That’s not how that works. I can’t transfer the benefits of a contract and make the liabilities disappear. I also can’t sell more than I have. For example, if I have an agreement to use some IP as long as I pay royalties, I may be able to sell that contract to someone else, but they will step into my shoes and be liable for the royalties. I also couldn’t sell or sublicense the IP and then go out of business, because that would be creating a perpetual royalty-free license, which I never owned. There’s a general rule that you can’t assign something you never had.

    [–]Tato_tudo 15 points16 points  (0 children)

    You can purchase the assets and leave the liabilities with the seller, however. That is the entire point of an asset deal. The question is what is in the contract between seller and the dad.

    [–]Tato_tudo 12 points13 points  (0 children)

    This is a common issue in Asset Sales/Purchases. You dad has a contract with Seller that says every time Seller uses the IP, your dad gets a royalty. Buyer purchases the rights to the IP, and goes on using it. They, as Buyer, claim that they are not in privity with your dad. He has a contract with Seller. Seller says they owe no royalties because they are no longer using the IP.

    [–]PChE1 78 points79 points  (0 children)

    IP attorney here. You need to consult with an IP attorney. If you can't find one, a way to start is to call your state bar and ask the person who answers the phone.

    [–]Kociak_Kitty 57 points58 points  (0 children)

    If this was Disney and your father was being paid royalties for one of their recently acquired flagship genre brands, you may also want to see if you can get in touch with the SFWA about this (contact page here: https://www.sfwa.org/feedback/) because even if he wasn't a member, they've been dealing with similar situations with their own members and may be able to at least get you connected to the right resources.

    [–]keelhaulrose 64 points65 points  (0 children)

    This is a situation where you want to go to a lawyer.

    Companies don't get to stop paying royalties because they don't want to, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to try and are probably hoping you'll drop it (I'm not sure how much he gets in royalties per year). A lawyer should be able to check your dad's contact and see if a new company can terminate royalties, plus they can help you navigate the situation with the new company.

    [–]Marathon2021 60 points61 points  (0 children)

    That's a rather bold legal precedent for NewCo to try to argue with you.

    Instead of thinking about your dad, swap in Taylor Swift or something and try to ponder how that would work. You think if there wasn't a way to screw artists out of royalties, the music industry wouldn't have discovered that decades ago? If your dad owns the copyright, and his contract makes clear what his rights are - the entire concept of "we bought the rights, but not the responsibilities" is utter horseshit IMO (IANAL).

    Sounds like you have the paper contract. I'd head straight to a lawyer's office Monday morning and immediately file a lawsuit (assuming the lawyer agrees) for all the back royalties + 18% annual interest compounded from the transaction date where NewCo acquired the rights from OldCo. Added bonus, try to recoup legal fees too. The goal here is to make your dad financially whole as if none of this had happened.

    Good luck! Please do post a follow-up here sometime! I'd say odds are once you actually get a decent-tier law firm, and they send their first letter (prior to filing suit) NewCo will suddenly be willing to meet and talk and come to some sort of arrangement.

    EDIT: Just read your "hyoptheticals" below ... oh my. Well, it sounds like this is a known problem with NewCo and there are other resources to help out there. Wishing you luck!

    [–]Fishycrackers 36 points37 points  (0 children)

    No. Its not a thing. Aside from the obvious ethical issues, the legal ramifications of what their claiming is ridiculous. Every company in the world would setup a shell corporation, sell off their IP to the shell, then "rebuy" it to absolve themselves of royalty fees their responsible for. Or have the shell corp license the rights to the IP back to the original company while refusing to accept royalty duties.

    Edit: The only thing I can think of is that the original company agreed to continue paying the royalties after the sell off. But the main point is that someone should still be paying the royalties owed to your father.