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Idea Protection -When You Pitch Your Ideas to Others

The attorneys at Law Offices of Angela Small Booth are skilled at helping you enforcing your rights should your idea be used without compensation. We routinely draft Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) that cover and protect your ideas.  We recommend you do not sign another company’s NDA without an attorney’s review, as you may be waiving these important rights if you do.

Ideas May Be Protected. You may have heard that ideas are not entitled to protection.  That is true under some circumstances and false under others.  In Hollywood, creative people commonly submit  scripts to producers or just verbally pitch an idea with the understanding that if the idea is used, he or she will be compensated for use of the material.  But what happens when the material gets used but you don’t get paid? The Supreme Court of California, in 1956, answered this question by recognizing an implied contractual right to compensation when a writer submits material to a producer with the understanding that the writer will be paid if the producer uses the concept. Desny v. Wilder, 299 P.2d 257 (Cal. 1956).  A so-called “Desny claim” or idea submission claim has remained viable under California law for over fifty years.  Recently the Ninth Circuit (the federal appeals court covering California) confirmed the validity of these idea submissions claims as separate and distinct from a copyright claim in Montz v. Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc., 649 F. 3d 975 (9th Cir. 2011), cert denied.

On June 26, 2012, the Second Circuit, (the federal appeals court covering New York) applying California law, followed the Ninth Circuit in Montz and affirmed these rights – see Forest Park Pictures v. Universal Television Network, Inc., 683 F.3d 424 (2nd Cir 2012). However other jurisdictions hold these claims to be preempted under the Copyright Act.  Having a skillfully drafted NDA will maximize your rights.

Contact the Law Offices of Angela Small Booth
Call The Law Offices of Angie Small Booth at 310.497.1351 or 805.765.5413
or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential initial consultation.
Serving the greater Southern California area
including Irvine, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern Counties.