Intellectual property in a business divorce can be a messy matter. Intellectual property and business divorce might seem like an odd couple. However, most companies have at least one form of intellectual property. During a breakup, the business owners will have to calculate the value of these assets and decide how to divide them. Our experienced attorneys can help you through this difficult process.
What Does Business Divorce Mean?
It does not mean a business that is being divided because of a divorce proceeding. We most commonly use the word in reference to the termination of a marriage. However, the literal definition of the word “divorce” also means a separation or severance. In a business sense, business divorce can occur when two or more owners of a business decide to sever their business relationship. This process typically entails paying debts and dividing up assets.
That’s where the intellectual property becomes part of the business divorce.
What Is Considered Intellectual Property?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines intellectual property as:
“Creations of the mind – creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them.”
Intellectual property generally comes in one of the following forms:
· copyrights, and
· trade secrets.
It is common for a company to have at least one form of intellectual property. For example, a manufacturing company might have patents on equipment or processes they have developed. A business might have marketing materials, clients lists, or logos. Even a sound or color can be considered intellectual property.
Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets are valuable business assets. Dividing intellectual property in a business divorce can be complicated and it is vital to confer with experienced legal counsel.
How Are Intellectual Property Assets Divided in a Business Divorce?
That’s a difficult question to answer. But the first place to look for answers might be the company’s formation documents, partnership agreements, and buy-sell agreements. Even if the agreements do not specifically mention intellectual property assets, they should be considered an important part of the company’s total assets.
The parties might also consider:
· Who created the asset, and
· Who might need the asset in future business ventures.
Either way, there is a strong potential for dissension. One partner might feel more responsible for a ‘creation of the mind.’ The other might feel the assets will lie dormant if they’re not allowed to use them in a new business.
One way to avoid the drama of a prolonged business divorce is to reach out to an experienced business divorce attorney as soon as possible. Negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, or litigation might be necessary to resolve any differences and make the split as easy as possible.
Dividing Intellectual Property in a Business Divorce Might Be Difficult. We Can Help.
The attorneys at Henke, Williams & Boll assist clients like you with litigation, dividing intellectual property in a business divorce, and other matters. But we don’t just help a little. We win cases through aggressive representation using extensive knowledge of the Texas legal system.
Our attorneys have more than 100 combined years of experience practicing law, and our broad range of knowledge enables us to provide practical solutions tailored to the unique needs of our clients. We are a proud law firm with commitment and passion for assisting those in need. Let us help you get the results you deserve.
For a free consultation or phone appointment, call 713-940-4500 or use the convenient contact form located on our website. [link to website]. We represent clients in the Houston area, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Brazoria County.