Chapter 1: My Career Gone

Footnote: Cut My Share

The marketing agreement for my software was between me and a limited liability company which I shall call Paxtonward Ltd. It said that as the owner of the software I would receive 40% of the retail price for which Paxtonward Ltd would sell the software to end-users.

In fact, what I was selling to the end users were licences to use the software: not the software itself. Paxtonward Ltd would keep the 60% of the 'retail price' of each licence. I will call the director of the company who dealt with me Paul Temple after the fictitious detective of that name in a 1950s radio serial.

However, before the software was even finished, Paul Temple was pressuring me to change the agreement. He wanted me to agree to only 40% of what Paxtonward Ltd actually received from selling each licence. This would allow him to sell the licences through multiple retailers or 're-sellers'. I would not agree to this.

The first sale gave the game away. The end-user concerned had a technical question for which he had to contact me. It came up in conversation that the company who had sold my software to him was a different company which I shall refer to as Aspenelder Ltd. I discovered that both these limited companies had exactly the same set of directors. Their obvious ploy had been for Paxtonward Ltd to be 'beaten down' into selling the licences exclusively to Aspenelder Ltd for a very low price. Aspen­elder's profit would thus be large while Paxtonward's would be very small. My cut would thus be 40% of Paxtonward's very low selling price. However, the directors of both companies (who were exactly the same people) got the profits of both com­panies.

When I confronted them with this scenario, the answer was of the form, "Well you can't blame us for trying, that's business." Obviously, to English businessmen, Eng­lish Law and hence to English society I have to assume that this kind of practice must seem to be quite fair game. I think it is callous exploitation of, and theft from, some­body who had put thousands of hours of hard work into a piece of software in return for what amounted in the end to less than even the miserable level of welfare the government hands out to the unemployed.

©April 1994 Robert John Morton