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Intellectual Property in Divorce: Who Gets What?

Published: Jan 13, 2023 in Divorce
Trademark red stamp on intellectual property document

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

During a divorce in Pennsylvania, all physical property is divided between spouses. A list of all owned items is submitted, and both partners stake claims about what they want to keep and what they are willing to let go.

But how is any intellectual property in divorce proceedings divided? To know the answer to this, you need to understand precisely what intellectual property is, how our state laws govern it, and how an experienced Pennsylvania lawyer can help you secure what you genuinely feel belongs to you.

What Is Intellectual Property in Pennsylvania?

Intellectual property is the non-physical, intangible assets owned and legally protected by a company or individual from outside use or implementation without consent.

Examples of intellectual property can include:

  • Patents: give the holder the exclusivity to create, make, or use an invention for a limited time
  • Copyrights: give the holder exclusive rights to copy, distribute, adapt, or display a creative work
  • Royalties: payments made to a patentholder or copyright-holder for the use of an invention or creative work
  • Trademarks: an identifying mark, logo, sign, design, or expression for products or services
  • Investments: the dedication of money to purchase an asset, which will attain an increase in value over time

How Can Intellectual Property Be Divided?

Under Pennsylvania law, the property should be divided equally between divorcing spouses. That doesn’t mean the property is split 50/50. Instead, the court uses equitable distribution, evaluates the couple’s debts and assets, then gives the appropriate amount to each spouse. Property before the marriage is called separate property and is generally granted to the spouse who owned it before the union. Property acquired or created during the marriage is known as marital property. This is the property that is divided.

The court will evaluate several factors to determine the fairest distribution. They’ll consider how long the marriage lasted, the spouses’ individual needs, and each partner’s financial contributions to gain intellectual property. For instance, if one spouse developed an invention requiring a patent, they will have more claim to it than the other spouse.

If a judge decides that both spouses have a claim to an intellectual asset, they may split it by dividing any associated derivatives. If one spouse supported the other as they developed an invention, they could receive part of the patent’s benefit.

Can Derivatives Be Divided?

Derivatives are developed works that come from copyrighted works. For instance, if a novel is adapted into a movie, the author will have the right to profits from the film. Derivatives also include accessories to a copyrighted product or improved versions of it.

After a divorce, derivatives can be distributed like other intellectual properties.

How Can a Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Help You?

Intellectual property division is governed by intellectual property law. These rules can be complicated to understand, especially when discussing dividing up something like an idea rather than a physical object.

Some postnuptial discussions can be tense, so there is a good chance that your spouse will fight to get what they feel they deserve.

That is why it is best to let an experienced attorney represent you. Determining who has the most claim to intellectual property is difficult. An attorney can gather the evidence you created the property, calculate its worth, establish ownership, and do more to protect your intangible assets.

Call Anthony Piccirilli for Help with Your Intellectual Property Needs

Separating physical assets during a divorce is hard; separating intellectual ones can be even more complicated. If you find yourself tangled up in divorce proceedings and are worried that you might lose something that is rightfully yours, contact the Pittsburgh divorce lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC.

Anthony Piccirilli can give you the representation you deserve and ensure no one takes advantage of you. Let us be your advocate and aid you in creating a mutually beneficial agreement. Call today at (412) 471-5100 to see how your interests can be protected.