When going through a divorce, you may be prepared to split assets like real estate, bank accounts, and even collectibles. However, you may not know that your intellectual property is vulnerable to distribution. However, there are many circumstances that determine what will happen to any copyright, patents, or trademarks you own. Keep reading to discover what you must know as an intellectual property owner and how a Los Angeles division of assets attorney can help you navigate these complex legal matters.
How Is Intellectual Property Handled During a Divorce?
When going through a divorce, all your marital property will be up for distribution. As such, your intellectual property could be subject to this division, depending on when it was acquired. If the property was created during the marriage, it is marital or community property. If it was obtained before the marriage, it is separate property.
It’s important to understand that when a couple cannot agree on the terms of their divorce, the courts will step in to determine the outcome. As such, anything deemed marital property will be divided according to California’s equitable distribution doctrine. This makes it so each spouse receives an equal 50-50 split of qualifying assets, regardless of their contribution to the marriage.
Because California adheres to community property laws, your intellectual property, if it is deemed a marital asset, is subject to division. This does not mean your spouse will be a co-owner of the actual copyright, trademark, or patent – they will simply be awarded financial gains from the work. This includes damages from any lawsuits that arise over infringement.
What Can I Do to Protect My Work?
If you are looking to take the necessary steps to protect your work and are not yet married, one of the most important things you can do is sign a prenuptial agreement. You can add terms in the document to protect any works you currently own and future creations you may make during your marriage.
However, if you are already married and going through a divorce, you may be able to take additional steps to protect your assets. One option is to establish an automatic transfer of ownership to a company if you are a business co-owner. While this protects the asset from your spouse during a divorce, it grants others in the business partial ownership of the asset.
If you’re going through a divorce, you may be able to compromise or buy out your spouse’s share of the intellectual property to maintain full ownership.
When you’re going through a divorce, and there are high-value and complex assets like intellectual property on the line, knowing how to proceed is vital. At the Zitser Family Law Group, our dedicated team has experience handling these assets, so you can achieve peace of mind that your property is in capable hands. Contact our firm today to learn how we can help you during these challenging times.