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Protecting Intellectual Property Rights During a High Asset Divorce

high asset divorce

A high-asset divorce can bring particular complications to the settlement table.  Both parties will understandably want to retain what they consider their individual property, but a marital settlement in Florida will divide assets equitably.

While intellectual property (IP) often cannot be divided, its future profits are a consideration for a divorcing couple.

To retain your particular intellectual property rights, you must contact a family law specialist who understands the intricacies a high-asset couple brings to the table. 

Intellectual Property

What is intellectual property?  It can be a book, script, radio or television show, an invention, computer code, art, or any creative effort that can be patented, trademarked, or copywritten to protect the owner. 

A patent is the most common type of protection for intellectual property rights. With a patent, the owner can sell the invention or license it to another party. IP can deliver value to its owner, who can then develop, protect, and monetize the property.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights

Several things must be done to get organized as the first step in protecting intellectual property rights during a Florida high-asset divorce. You must know what you have and its value.

  • First – Compile a list of intellectual property (IP) assets and gather the documents that validate such agreements, such as certificates, financial records, and licensing agreements. Determine who contributed to the IP, including financial and other contributions, contracts, and nondisclosure agreements,
  • Second – Hire a professional appraiser who can value the intellectual property in the present and future. That will be speculative but provide some idea of future income from the IP. Consider tax implications and the ongoing cost of maintaining the IP. A forensic accountant or IP attorney will be needed to accurately determine the value of your property before considering how to distribute it equitably in a divorce proceeding. The other option is to use this assessment as the basis for a payout now, not in the future.
  • Third – Protect your intellectual property by closing loopholes, updating confidentiality agreements, and preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information or trade secrets. Document the contributions to the IP made by both spouses.
  • Fourth – Your divorce settlement must address all of your IP concerns. With the help of your attorney, a mediation might include a post-nuptial agreement that addresses how intellectual property will be treated in the divorce. Include in the mediation the assessment of what the value of the IP will be in the future. A non-disclosure agreement, as well as other contracts, may be required as part of the mediation.
  • Fifth – There needs to be an enforcement mechanism in your mediated divorce settlement that may include monitoring and protecting intellectual property rights and a penalty for any violations.Your

Your Florida Family Law Attorney

Among the assets a divorcing couple will address, intellectual property has the potential to generate some of the most contentious and bitter fights.

That’s because it is personal property, and the owner may be very attached to his property and not willing to put it in the pool that is to be equitably divided.  However, if there is present and future value to the IP, and it falls under the definition of a marital asset, unless you’ve negotiated otherwise, it may need to be divided in a Florida divorce. 

Attorney Crystal Collins Spencer advises clients that the rights to the income generated by IP will be subject to a discussion about an equitable division along with property, investments, cars, homes, and even time with the children. 

At this time, staying closely in touch with the mediations is advised to explore your options thoroughly. Equitable division in Florida does not mean equal, and a settlement may become more favorable if you can work with your ex-spouse rather than have the court impose a divorce settlement. 

Attorney Spencer has nearly four decades of experience in high net worth and complex divorce matters. She will be your ally in the division of IP if you call her Pensacola office, Spencer Law, at (850) 912-8080 to begin the conversation. Her family law practice represents individuals from Pensacola to Ft. Walton, Sandestin to Santa Rosa Beach, and Panama City.

316 S. Baylen Street, Suite 520
Pensacola, FL 32502
Telephone: 850.912.8080 Fax: 850.912.8028

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