Can a previous business owner pretend to represent our business?
I purchased a business with my husband 4 years ago. The previous owner immediately started to do the same type of work with a so called friend more than 5 kms away so not much we could do. Our contract was 5 km and 2 years. I’ve tried to put it out of my mind because we were doing ok and doubling the business to what it was.
Over the years we had customers come in and mention he has contacted us and asked if he could help them (in other words trying to poach them back) as he is now doing it from his home about 2 kms away from our shop. Now the latest, he has set up a Facebook page and has used some of our display items (he obviously still has the photos from when he was the owner).
But the main thing he is calling our suppliers stating he is from our business name and asking them for products catalogues and to be sent to his home address. He must think we don’t use some of them for supplies. One of them contacted me late Friday to ask if he was a part of our business. He also owed 1 of them money when we took over and keep telling the supplier it was our invoice not his until I sent them a copy of our contract with our start date.
We have about 5 suppliers, some we use a lot more than others because of locality, so over the weekend I have emailed them all to say he is not the owner and has nothing to do with us. So my question is legally can he do this? Lie to the suppliers and use photos of my products?
I appreciate your advice.
First you have to talk to an attorney and have them read over the agreement to see what is enforcable and what not. If it is enforceable then you need to take steps to a: let them know thye are in violation and give them some time to fix things. Talk to the lawyer to really know what to do in your area.
I concur with Marc - see a lawyer, even for just one consultation. All the best to you.
there are a number of legal strategies you can use, including but not limited to:
1. write requesting that he cease and desist
2. it is misleading and deceptive conduct
3. breach of copyright (maybe)
All have damages attached - good way to get him to stop
Thanks for the tag today Yee :)
Certainly, the terms of the agreement would need to be reviewed to determine any/all action available to you. However, I agree with Katherine's comments above. On the face of your post it certainly sounds like he may be guilty of engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.
Copyright infringement may come into play if he's using your images or any of your 'work'. If he's using images he took and never assigned copyright ownership to you when you purchased the business then he may still be the copyright owner, but, depending on all the specifics using those images may still amount to misleading/deceptive conduct etc.
All the best :)