Here’s a philosophical question open for comment and discussion. It is something that has been “bugging” me since the Town stopped payment on December 22nd.
First a fictitious analogy to help with my thinking:
A business — corporation B — engages architectural firm A to start the design of a new custom-home for their current president. The president of course is very happy with this scenario as she/he will be getting the benefit of living in a new specially built home at the expense of corporation B.
However, midway through the design process corporation B lets the president go and then tells architectural firm A to stop designing for them as they are no longer in need of the house. The design is not complete and corporation B will pay architectural firm A for all services rendered to date and no more.
The now ex-president liked architectural firm A’s design, approaches architectural firm A and asks them to complete the custom design for which the ex-president will now pay them directly.
The ethical query: Should architectural firm A do this work for the ex-president as corporation B was the original client and paid architectural firm A for the initial work and is the rightful owner of the intellectual property of the design for the custom-home?
The ex-president would be benefiting from corporation B’s initial expenditures and reduce their own cost in the design. Should architectural firm A be starting from scratch on a new design for the ex-president as he/she is not entitled to be using corporation B’s intellectual property? Or should architectural firm A tell the ex-president that is it a conflict of interest to work for them and the ex-president should seek help from another architectural firm?
Now let’s turn this to our local situation without getting into the political dealings of who, why, how etc..
The Town of Aurora engages an external law office to sue townspeople for apparent defamation of the current mayor. If successful the mayor will benefit with direct financial compensation. The legal proceedings start, the mayor by way of an election becomes the ex-mayor and the new council decides to stop direct engagement of the town’s external lawyers for this particular lawsuit.
The legal proceedings have not been completed and the Town will only pay the lawyers for all services rendered to date and no more.
Can the ex-mayor then approach the lawyers and tell them that he/she will now pay their bills going forward and thus benefit from the work to date paid by the Town or does the Town as a corporation own that “intellectual property” and/or services provided by the original lawyers and the ex-mayor is not entitled to its use? If so, should the ex-mayor be “starting from scratch” perhaps with a new lawyer and new proceedings as it would be a conflict of interest for the original lawyer to continue?
What do you think? (Any lawyers in the crowd who can shine some light on the legalities of the situation?)