Can I protect my intellectual property during a divorce?

divorce decree with wedding rings

If you choose to end your marriage, it is crucial to agree on the terms of your separation, including the division of your property. Certain assets are more straightforward to split than others, and in cases where both parties can’t agree on the terms that will apply to the termination of their marriage, the court will decide, and the assets will be distributed equitably. If you own intellectual property (IP), you might be concerned about its fate during the division of assets. Please continue reading and contact a trusted Pensacola Property Division Lawyer who can help you safeguard your IP during property division.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) is an umbrella term that refers to a collection of intangible assets that result from human creativity and are legally owned by individuals or corporations. These assets are protected by law from unauthorized use or implementation without consent. IPs can range from different types of assets, including copyrights, royalties, patents, and trademarks. Generally, IPs are afforded the same protective rights applied to tangible assets.

IP ownership is often a complex aspect of divorce as spouses may be entitled to an interest in it depending on when the property was created, who contributed to it, and whether or not you are bound to contracts/agreements regarding the IP. While the IP is not divisible itself, the IP rights are usually subject to division.

What will happen to my IP during the division of assets?

Firstly, what will happen to your IP during the property division depends on whether it is considered marital or separate property. During the division of assets, marital property, meaning any assets acquired during the marriage, will be split fairly, not necessarily equally, between the divorcing couple. Therefore, if you developed the intellectual property before the marriage, your spouses did not contribute to it, and it was not commingled with your other assets, it will be considered separate property, which would not be subject to equitable distribution. However, suppose your spouses contributed to the creation or development of the IP. In that case, it will be considered marital property, meaning they would likely be entitled to some share of it during the division of assets.

Another factor that will impact what will happen to your IP during the division of assets is the value of your IP. IPs are intangible assets, which makes determining their value more challenging. To receive a precise and unbiased evaluation of your IP, you must work with professionals who can assess its worth based on previous and potential future earnings. This will ensure you receive an accurate valuation of your IP.

How can I protect it?

Furthermore, there are some steps you can take to protect your IP. Before you tie the knot or even afterward, you should consider creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You can dictate that your IP is your separate property in the agreement, which means it will not be subject to division. Keeping as much documentation as possible regarding your IP to prove that you developed it independently and your spouse is not entitled to a share is also beneficial.

If you own intellectual property, it is in your best interest to retain the legal services of an experienced lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Burns. During property division, a lot is at stake. Our legal team is here to help you determine the best course of action to protect your IP and secure a fair valuation.