In an ideal world, you will not need to sue a former business partner, as you’ll go your separate ways and remain on good — or at least neutral — terms. However, any business owner knows that things are often far from ideal. You certainly can run into issues that lead to a lawsuit, and you need to know what they are so that you can be properly prepared. Here are a few key examples.
The partner deserted the business
Your partner typically doesn’t have to stay with the company, but they may have signed a partnership agreement. If they then left in a way that violated that agreement, it could count as desertion, and you may be able to sue.
For instance, maybe you needed their contacts to make sales, and the agreement said they’d work with you for five years at the minimum. They left after three. This cost you tremendously, as you couldn’t sell your products, and violated the agreement.
The partner took and used your intellectual property
Intellectual property is exceedingly important and may have been intended to stay with the company. Examples include designs, plans, client lists, processes, trademarks and more. If your partner left your company and then used that information to profit, they may have breached your intellectual property rights. This can get complicated when both people believe they have a right to that information.
The partner directly robbed you on the way out the door
Your partner may have stolen from your business in many ways. Maybe they took physical assets from the office that they used, but that the company owned. Maybe they cleaned out a bank account. Perhaps they continued using company assets, like a car or a phone, after leaving. If they stole from you and harmed your business in any way, you may be able to sue to get back what you lost.
What options do you have?
If you’re wondering about this, you’re already in a complicated situation. Make sure you know all about your legal options as you navigate it.