Entering into a business relationship with another person can be tricky, especially when the sharing of intellectual property is involved. If you are considering entering into a partnership or collaboration with someone new to your business, you need to be well-informed about what IP is important to protect and how to establish who owns what from the very beginning of the relationship.
What Kinds of IP Need Protection?
As a business owner, you will want to protect all of your company’s sensitive information, inventions and your brand when entering into a new business relationship. This means all trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets need to be covered in an IP agreement.
When Do You Need an IP Agreement?
The earlier the better. When working collaboratively with employees, contractors and partners, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to determine who owns the resulting IP. For this reason, I generally recommend that you enter into an agreement determining who owns all IP early on in the relationship, usually before any new IP is created. This will prevent disagreements from arising later on, and if disagreements arise anyway, you can rest easy knowing that your company’s IP rights have already been secured. That said, you will only receive full protection if your IP agreement has been properly drafted.
Make Sure You Have a Solid IP Agreement
The best way to make sure your IP agreement is properly drafted and offers full protection for all of your intellectual property is to get assistance from a qualified attorney that specializes in intellectual property law. IP agreements must be comprehensive and well-written so as not to become subject to interpretation and scope should a disagreement or falling out between partners arise. I have extensive experience creating this kind of legal document and would love to assist you in creating an IP agreement that will protect the ownership of your intellectual property. In addition, if you are unsure as to whether a specific situation warrants the use of an IP agreement, I can advise you on the matter.
Kelly G. Swartz is a patent attorney licensed to practice in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and in the state of Florida. She limits her practice to intellectual property law including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.