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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict Adam A Flynn's Avatar
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    Missing Partner - What do I do?

    Hi,

    A partner that I've been working with to start up a site seems to have disappeared. I was responsible for doing the coding, and he was responsible for doing marketing, design, and misc stuff. He did the design when we first started out, and did a bit to start looking into marketing.

    Before Christmas I asked him to write some body test to fill in the site a bit before the official launch. He said that he was busy over Christmas so it would take a bit. At the start of January (the 8th, to be exact) I tried to ask for a progress report, but on the other end of the MSN conversation I got his father saying he was out of town for a bit, and then busy with exams, but he should be back in a week or so. So, I waited for a bit to let him get over exams. He hasn't been on MSN at the same time as me since the 12th (with the exception of one time when he popped on briefly on the 18th). Usually our online times overlap by a few hours a day.

    So I haven't had a conversation with him in over a month, and the project has just been sitting idle for the last month and a half. I really want to get things moving forward, and am prepared to do it myself if he doesn't return in a week or so, but, what are the legalities here? Really the only thing of his that he could claim a copyright on is the design (which is 1 logo and a color scheme upon which I based the site's CSS). Beyond that, the domain's the only other thing he has. I own full rights to the code and the server its hosted on is mine. So, all and all, I'm in a decent position to be able to walk and pick up the project on my own.

    There was never any written contract outlining any of this, just MSN conversations outlining basic responsibilities. What are the moral and legal considerations here? I'm sure others of you have been through this sorta thing.

  2. #2
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    Just buy a new domain and dont use his stuff. If he is ignoring you he doesnt want in or found something else to do. Just get a new domains and use your stuff and release it. It is his own fault.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot amberstar702's Avatar
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    I can see the frustrating thing in not hearing from your partner. When you try to make contact with someone and they are evasive, you wonder why they are not upfront with you and have the decency to say they are no longer interested instead of keeping you hanging without a response so you can move on. IMO, a serious lack of personal and professional ethics.

  4. #4
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Plan A: I guess I would email him and tell him you'd like to finish the site and put it live. Ask him what he thinks is a fair price for the domain and the work he has done (or suggest what you think is fair), it you want to use it. Work out how you can buy him out of the "partnership". Give him a week to respond and then if you don't hear from him go to plan B.

    Plan B: Otherwise, simply pull his domain from your server and start fresh on your own (of course using your code if you like). I'd write him and tell him your plans, but at this point, if you choose this option, I wouldn't wait any longer for him.

    The only "kicker" here is that the domain is his. However, there may be similar names available. I'd also check on the availability of hyphenated and underscored names if the domain has two or more words.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  5. #5
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    I actually had webhosting with a single person

    It turned out that he actually died, I lost $300 in the process but there was nothing I can do, I would continue looking into it, while developing the site

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict Adam A Flynn's Avatar
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    E-mailed him for now. I'll see if he responds to that...

    According to GAIM, I am no longer on his MSN contact list. He hasn't blocked me (or at least GAIM doesn't think he has), but I am no longer on his contact list.

    Hmm, just got the e-mail bounced back to me. It looks like his MSN e-mail address is with a domain that is unreachable. (Can't ping it, so, obviously, it isn't pointing anywhere) I don't have any other e-mail addresses for him, and no way to contact him...

    Should I just switch to plan B? Also, how big a deal is it if I simply continue to use the domain (it's pointing at my server anyway) and the bit of artwork he did? Is that considered illegal, or is it only illegal if he first asks me to stop using it?

  7. #7
    Grr. Arrgh. Mr. B's Avatar
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    I'd try to get him by phone. If you can't , you've pretty much exhausted everything you can do. You could -

    1. use the design and everything the two of you have built so far and guess that he probably won't contact you again.

    2. start from scratch and do what you were doing before but with a new design, domain and marketing plan.

    I'd be inclined to go for two if you think the guy might show up again when the site is up, wanting something for nothing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam A Flynn
    Should I just switch to plan B? Also, how big a deal is it if I simply continue to use the domain (it's pointing at my server anyway) and the bit of artwork he did? Is that considered illegal, or is it only illegal if he first asks me to stop using it?
    If you start on your own and comtinue using that domain, your ex-partner could walk away with it and sell it whenever he likes, since it's in his name and he's got control over it. If you've spent time developing and marketing the site then the domain probably has quite a bit of traffic going to it, and that's the only way people would know to visit your site.

    Or he could leave it pointing to your server, but not renew it, leaving you with a few months of downtime, and you risk loosing the domain to someone else.

    So if you're going on your own and he won't reply or you can't contact him, you really need to get a new domain.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict Adam A Flynn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice everyone.

  10. #10
    Smart programmer silver trophy M.Zeb Khan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower
    underscored names if the domain has two or more words.
    Off Topic:

    You can't use underscore in domain names

  11. #11
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    He didnt put phone number or any other contact info with domain?
    try a whois on it see if he put any contact info there that you could use to get in touch with him.

    Good luck mate.

  12. #12
    :-) Judith's Avatar
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    do you really want to work with someone like this?

    Do you want to continue to deal with someone who is continually unavailable and irresponsible?

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot Christiano's Avatar
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    Since his domain is directing to a site hosted on your server, using your resources, then why not make a splash page directing people to newdomain.com and see how long it takes for him to react, that should get his attention.

    If not simply offer to buy the domain off him, and agree on a settlement for his services/domain.

    Otherwise cut loose and go on your own. Hope it all works out, take care.

    -Martin
    Innovative Design and Development Services
    Design: XHTML - CSS - Photoshop CS - Flash 7 - Illustrator
    Development: Java - JavaScript - PHP - MySQL - .NET - Struts 2

  14. #14
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    I was faced with this same situation a year ago. It's a major bummer after you've put in heaps of time and someone does something like this.

    I just moved on and didn't look back. 2 months ago my ex-partner bumped into me at a party and asked why I hadn't called :/ I told him that after 10 un-returned messages I start to take it personally.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast james_lee's Avatar
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    do you know him/her in real life? if you don't, theres your first mistake.

    Cheers!

  16. #16
    SitePoint Member
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    yea you need to straighten out contact issues from the get go, Phone number, address, etc.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by james_lee
    do you know him/her in real life? if you don't, theres your first mistake.

    Cheers!
    How so? I have had many long and enjoyable business partnerships with people I've never met in person. Just because you don't know them "in real life" doesn't mean anything.

    You should always have contact info sorted out, though, and never do any work without a contract or partnership agreement, online or not.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict Adam A Flynn's Avatar
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    No, I have never met them personally.

    I entered into the partnership without contracts and lots of contact info and such because I knew, ultimately, the code and the hosting space would be controlled and owned by me. So, worst case scenario is that I need to find someone else to do marketing (which I can do easily). Simply moving on, in this case, won't be very difficult.

  19. #19
    Object Not Found junjun's Avatar
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    This reminds of the thread about why web designers has such a bad reputation.. There's such a lack of professionalism in the one man operations out there. Finding someone reliable has turned into a really time consuming job.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict Adam A Flynn's Avatar
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    An update on the situation, my partner has returned. We talked things over a bit, and he sent me the domain and gave me the rights to use the design. Since I began talking with someone else about taking over his part of the project already, we decided to part ways on this project and perhaps look at taking up another one in the future.

    So, all and all, things ended fairly well.

  21. #21
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    Glad everything worked out.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    Good to hear it worked out. Get something in writing on those rights, and on the partnership with the new guy.

  23. #23
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    I'm glad that everything worked out for you this time Adam. However, I'd suggest against partnering with this person in the future. You never know if next time you will be stuck with the wrong end of the deal. Good luck with this project and any others you do.
    Mark Blair
    userintervention | "Technical Support Community"

  24. #24
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    Glad to hear that everything turned out Ok. just goes to show that a signed agreement covering this sort of thing would have been a good idea - especialy as you'd never met them before.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Enthusiast james_lee's Avatar
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    phew. lucky you.


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