In There Will Be Blood (2007), there is a scene where Paul Sunday sells information about there being oil where he grew up.

This struck me as something very difficult to negotiate, because, while this information is very valuable, it's not a patent. Until the buyer investigates it, he does not know how valuable it is. But after the buyer knows the details, he has no incentive to pay for it.

If you were in Paul Sunday's shoes, and wanted a lawyer to represent you in the negotiation, which legal specialty would you go with?


Pretty standard contract lawyer

You negotiate a price for the information, put it in a contract, you give them the info they give you the money. Depending on trust levels you might set up an escrow system.

Essentially this is no different from what every profession does every day: a professional sells knowledge.

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  • Would IP lawyers be better-equipped to handle this than contract lawyers? – MaxB May 5 at 7:17
  • @MaxB "Would IP lawyers be better-equipped to handle this than contract lawyers?" No, it is a contract matter, not an IP one. Even if obtained through seller's own research, that particular information is applicable only to that specific place, and it is neither reproducible nor amenable to extrapolation so as to warrant IP considerations. – Iñaki Viggers May 5 at 10:02
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    @MaxB IP law is not really relevant because there's no IP involved here. That information (knowing where some oil is) is not anything that can be intellectual property, it can't be patented, it can't be copyrighted, it can't be trademarked, so it can't ever get any property-like protection or property-like rights applied to it. It's a bit similar to trade secrets, but those don't have any IP law protections and rely on ordinary contract law to enforce some limitations and penalties. – Peteris May 5 at 16:01

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