To Sue a Scoundrel

Submitted by General Patent on Sun, 06/09/2013 - 22:32

Reclusive author Harper Lee, who penned To Kill a Mockingbird - her only novel - back in 1960, is in the news for the first time in years. The reason: She is suing her literary agent for copyright infringement.

More specifically, the 87-year-old Lee is suing Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of her longtime agent Eugene Winick, for tricking her into signing over the copyright to her famous novel back in 2007.

Lee was in an assisted-living facility at the time of the alleged trickery, recovering from a stroke. "Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see," states the complaint.

The copyright was reassigned to Lee last year after she took other legal action, but she seeks to take back full ownership of the copyright and block her wayward agent from any remaining commissions.

Watching this lawsuit play out will be interesting - not least to find out what Pinkus has to say for himself.

"The transfer of ownership of an author’s copyright to her agent is incompatible with her agent’s duty of loyalty; it is a gross example of self-dealing," scolds the complaint.

Also named in the lawsuit are Gerald Posner, a New York attorney and investigative journalist who incorporated one of Pinkus' companies; and Leigh Ann Winick, Pinkus' wife and the president of Keystone Literary LLC (which is also a defendant).

We can only hope that this tangled mess clears up quickly, and that the lawsuit will bring renewed interest in Lee's classic novel - not to mention more royalties for Lee and her rightful heirs.