May 23, 2023

Intellectual Property: Will the Real Owner Please Stand Up!

The sharing of intellectual property is pivotal to the growth and innovation of our economy. When acquiring intellectual property, it is important to identify the rightful owner; unfortunately, the lines may be blurred as to who owns the rights. Since business investors and potential partners are much more inclined to get involved with companies that can confirm who owns the intellectual property rights, it is imperative for owners to take proper measures. 

When assessing ownership, the following can help: 

Copyright: Generally, a copyright is filed when the owner can prove it is an original work. Once approved, the owner can then transfer the legal rights of their copyright for a certain period. The original owner should have a well-drafted contract stipulating the conditions for which the copyright can be transferred to avoid copyright infringement. 

Patent: When a patent is filed by the owner (usually the inventor), it is common that they sell the invention to third parties. Those third parties will then have the proprietary interest in the patent, to keep out those who do not have rights to use it. 

Trade Secret: By and large, trade secret owners are in an employer-employee relationship. While the employer is normally the owner of the intellectual property, the employee has access to it, which puts the trade secret at risk of misappropriation. and Owners of trade secrets should have agreements in place such as employee agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and non-competition agreements that make it clear to a court that the employer is owns the intellectual property and showed reasonable protection of the trade secret. 

If you have an issue regarding who owns intellectual property rights, contact Kelley Kronenberg today to discuss your legal options. 

Timothy D. Shields, Esq.
Partner, Copyright and Trademark.
Kelley Kronenberg-Fort Lauderdale, FL.
(954) 370-9970