How you can protect your intellectual property in a divorce

Divorce almost always gets ugly. It gets even more ugly if there is a significant amount of money, assets, and businesses involve. The difficult of a high asset divorce can be mitigated through the use of a prenuptial agreement. A prenup is a pre-marital contract that outlines the rules should a divorce occur, it streamlines and reduces costs in the process. An increasingly popular sub-type of a prenuptial agreement are ones that deal with the division of intellectual property or ideas.

Ideas and intellectual property are two distinct concepts. Intellectual property is assets that exist and can be bought and sold. For example, the manuscript of a book is intellectual property. The television, movie, international publication and derivative works are all intellectual property. These assets are quickly dealt with in a divorce once they exist.

In contrast, ideas are concepts that are not yet fully formed. An idea can be as simple as a social media platform that connects people, allows them to post pictures, and enables them to interact with easy-to-understand icons, like “pokes.” Until Facebook was created as a program, it was just an idea. Ideas are not copyrightable, they can’t be trademarked, and they can’t be patented, hence why they are more complicated to protect.

Ideas can and are frequently discussed in prenups. The Millenial generation is the pioneers of this new type of pre-marital contract. It is believed that ideas are the most valuable thing that most people own therefore they must be protected. Prenups can outline how the proceeds and derivative works of those ideas are dealt with in the event of a divorce.

If you are considering marriage and want a prenuptial agreement, you may want to contact a lawyer. An attorney can review your situation and advise you of the best way to draft and implement the prenup. You cannot do these things alone (include your spouse), and you should ask at least one lawyer to review the language. There is no point in drafting a prenup if it isn’t enforceable when it matters.

FindLaw Network
Heidi L. Heinrich
Rated by Super Lawyers


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