Often, a company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio may include some of its most valuable assets.

It is vital, however, to be certain your company actually owns the IP rights you believe it owns. Just because an invention, software, website or other item was made for the company, at the direction of the company, or by an employee of the company does not mean the company automatically owns the IP rights to that item. When dealing with patents and copyrights in particular, IP ownership initially vests in the inventor or creator of the work and must be assigned to the company.

Employee agreements or handbooks stating that the company owns all IP rights or that the employee will assign any IP rights to the company are good first steps that should be taken to secure ownership rights in intellectual property your employees create on the job. More, however, may be needed to actually transfer title in the IP to your company. If not done (or done improperly), failure to obtain an effective assignment can create a break in the chain of title that can be detrimental to, among other things, the value of your company and its ability to operate.

To mitigate risk associated with your company’s intellectual property assets, it’s a good idea to periodically engage an IP attorney to review your IP portfolio to confirm ownership and clean up any chain of title issues that may be outstanding.

For more information, or to speak with one of our professionals, please reach out to your primary Metz Lewis contact or one of our intellectual property lawyers:

This post was written by Jessica Hauth Mozingo and Barry Friedman.

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