Can I protect my intellectual property during a divorce in Massachusetts?

intellectual property

Divorcing your spouse is a tough decision, and figuring out the best way to divide your marital assets is a difficult undertaking. The division of assets can be a contested issue, especially when dividing valuable assets like intellectual property (IP). IPs can be much more valuable than physical assets, making it crucial for couples to determine a fair distribution of these assets that accurately reflects each party’s contributions throughout the relationship. If you are worried about what may happen to your IP during property division, contact a competent Bristol County Division of Assets and Debts Lawyer who can help you navigate this complex legal process. 

What is intellectual property (IP)?

Intellectual property (IP) is a term used for intangible assets that are creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, images, names, and logos used in commerce. Essentially, it is not a physical asset. However, IPs are owned by individuals or companies and are legally protected from outside use or implementation without consent. IPs include patents, royalties, copyrights, and trademarks, allowing individuals to profit from their creations.

If an IP was created or acquired during the marriage, it will likely be considered marital property and subject to division. Essentially, this means your spouse may be entitled to receive a share during property division. While the intangible asset is not physically divisible, the rights or the royalty payments that either party gets could be subject to division. However, if the IP was independently developed before the marriage, it will be considered separate property, not subject to division.

How can I protect my IP during a divorce in Massachusetts?

If you own IP, establishing a prenuptial agreement is the best way to ensure it is kept as a separate asset. Before you tie the knot, it is imperative to create a prenuptial agreement stipulating that in the event of a divorce, the IP will remain a separate property and not be divided. If you do not establish a prenuptial agreement, you can still protect your IP by establishing a postnuptial agreement. The only difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is that postnuptial agreements are established during a marriage. These types of legal contracts can help minimize potential conflicts regarding IP ownership during the division of assets.

To protect your IP, it is imperative to have documentation that proves you developed it independently. The court considers several factors when deciding whether this asset should be divided between spouses. So, if you can prove that you were solely responsible for creating and maintaining the IP, including obtaining necessary licenses and legal documents, it can help establish that your spouse did not contribute and, therefore, the IP should not be considered marital property.

Furthermore, the best way to protect your IP is by retaining the legal services of an experienced lawyer who can work with IP experts to provide an objective assessment on determining a fair distribution of these assets that accurately reflects each party’s contributions. Dividing intangible assets is much more complex than splitting tangible items.

If you are concerned about how your IP may be divided during the division of assets, contact a skilled lawyer from The Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C., who can help you safeguard your hard-earned assets during property division.