Grand Theft: Intellectual Property

Foreword: Please place your comment/advice hats on your heads. Thank you in advance.

Possible Scenario:

A well-known company has run out of ideas for marketing their new product line. This company posts a job listing seeking a Marketing Professional to develop and implement fresh marketing initiatives to raise awareness of their new product line among their target market.

The company interviews candidates for the position. Candidates are asked to draft a few original marketing initiatives to propose for consideration of employment. Upon submission of their original proposal, candidates are narrowed down to a select few. The remaining candidates are then asked to draft another proposal, only this time in a completely different arena, for instance, a highly technical proposal on Search Engine Optimization and various Key Word Providers. Some candidates comply, some candidates bow out of the competition.

Days go by.

None of the candidates ever hear from the company again.

Did this company hold ruse interviews to pick the brains of industry professionals, with no intention to hire, and every intention of obtaining free ideas and consultations from job-seeking professionals?


In hindsight, this seems like something that would be filed in the “oldest trick in the book” department, but I honesty can’t remember ever hearing of such a thing.

Has anyone ever heard of this before?

Wanted: Your Insight, Opinion or Input of any sort.

Suggested Points of Discussion:

As relating to this situation, what are the accepted reasonable and definable expectations of job candidates when qualifying themselves to a potential employer?

At what definable point does a candidate’s compliance with the interview process become “consultation”?

Are Intellectual Property laws applicable here?

Are there any definable and enforceable audits or other alternate measures in place to prevent employers from doing this at will?

Please, discuss. Comment link is under article header.


5 Responses

  1. Is this for serious?! Did this happen to you, or are you thinking of using it in the future? ;)

  2. Jew,

    Yes, this happened to me.

  3. Yep, oldest trick in the book.

    They stole your shit. That’s what they do, they’re marketing people, the lowest of the low.

    ANY time you EVER submit ANYTHING original to ANYONE, you MUST produce a one-time use only contract for the receiver to sign, LONG before you give them anything. In this particular case, you shouldn’t have given them shit anyway, but I assume you’re fairly new to the deal and just got rooked.

    It happens.

    In all fairness, I’ve known dozens of companies to violate the one-time use contracts. HOWEVER, if you do seek legal reparation for some shitbag stealing your work, at least you have documentation that a contract was signed, and then surreptitiously ignored by the signee.

    And at the very least, when you embark on your smear campaign of the thieving individuals and/or company, they can’t sue you for defamation of character — provided you stick to the provable facts.

    Also, it is always wise to copyright your work. If you can’t afford a copyright attorney, use the Jim Carroll approach.

    Some ass clown tried to pass off a bunch of Carroll’s poetry and written work as his own. As it is exceedingly difficult to prove intellectual property ownership and enforce Article 40 when you’re a little fish in a big creative pond, Carroll just mailed all his original work to himself and kept the sealed envelopes.

    When he was called into court to prove ownership, he handed over the mail. Original work is automatically protected when handled by a federal agency — the U.S. Postal Service.

    Kid, people are fucking scumbags and they’ll claw your eyes out of your head if they need to see. The burden of protection falls heavily on you, and you need to guard your shit like Cerberus.

  4. SWZA:

    Consider your advice taken.


  5. SWZA- awesome! You are badass! Great advice :)

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