Intellectual property is any expression of original ideas, writing, designs, or image over which the creator or owner has exclusive rights. Businesses that deal with intellectual property (such as software, plans, drawings, designs, or trade secrets) should make sure the contracts they sign safeguard their intellectual property rights. Businesses that fail to tailor their contracts to protect their intellectual property rights can lose those rights when dealing with employees or other businesses.

The most common types of intellectual property contracts are: license agreements, evaluation agreements, and employee invention and nondisclosure agreements. License agreements are used to protect a business’s ownership of an intellectual property in spite of improvements or advances made by users, to protect their rights to transfer the property in exchange for income, and to market the property in a profitable way. Evaluation agreements are typically used to protect the business’s intellectual property in the event that they need to disclose confidential information to another party to evaluate in order to negotiate a license, joint venture, or development agreement. Employee invention and nondisclosure agreements are contracts that generally protect the business’s intellectual property rights from their employees who have access to the intellectual property or to claim and protect ownership of intellectual property created by their employees.

Why do disputes arise?

Sometimes, disputes arise when hired independent contractors take the intellectual property of a business and alter it partially in order to resell to others. Other times, businesses fail to protect their intellectual property rights in their employment contracts which results in the business having no ownership of an employee’s work or invention for that business. Even if businesses do take steps to protect their intellectual property rights in a contract, at times businesses fail to enforce the terms of that contract when the other side breaches the contract. Occasionally, ambiguous language in the contract can even create loopholes for the other side. On the other hand, businesses sometimes make the costly mistake of using the intellectual property rights of another business without their permission, due to misunderstandings of the contract signed between the two sides. Consequently, for businesses, it is vital to fully understand the obligations, liabilities, terms of use, and other aspects of the business transaction contract before agreeing to it. In all the aforementioned scenarios, consultation with an attorney may be paramount.

Raheen Law Group can assist clients with understanding, negotiating, or drafting intellectual property contracts. Raheen Law Group can also protect clients’ interests in pursuing legal action to enforce the terms of a contract, or defend clients from an alleged broken contract. Please contact us for a consultation.

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