Who owns your IP?
Sounds like a silly question, right? Haha. But it isn't. Many people don't this about this question when they start creating intellectual property (IP) in at least three of the following ways:
1. Employment Context - as the employee.
If you have a side hustle, you may want to check your contract with your employer. Normally, any IP that you create during your employment (and especially if you've used the employer's resources to do so) means that your employer has an interest in your IP.
You should make sure you get clarification from your employer about the policies around side hustles, get it in writing and ensure that you DO NOT use the company's resources to build out your gig.
2. Partnership Context.
Creating a business is met with so much excitement and exhilaration. That means a ton of business owners/entrepreneurs fail to discuss what may become the "elephant' in the room - the IP - at the start of the relationship. Questions like: Who owns it? Who created it? Who get's the logo, the name, the customer's lists, the website, etc. should be discussed.
Although the genesis of your business venture may not be generating profits, it doesn't mean that you aren't creating assets in the business that could be profitable in the future and which could be difficult in splitting up among the partners if there is ever a dispute that leads to a separation. Think of what you've brought to the table and insert those things in a partnership agreement.
3. General Public.
This is a big one! You may not own your IP if you fail to properly protect it by filing federal registrations. Of course there are other issues that could be discussed to argue whether or not a third-party has a proper claim to your work. But you should always err on the side of caution and by utilizing your "common law" symbols to hold out to the public that your works are protected by copyright, trademark or patent law and get your applications filed asap for full registration & protection.
Need help with ensuring your IP remains yours, give our office a call at 708.234.7298.
This article is a service of SL DeBarros Law Firm, LLC. We offer a wide array of business legal services and can help you make the wisest business choices throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a Business Protection Start-Up Session or a Business Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.