Estate Planning: What About the Intellectual Property?
In spite of great objectives, lots of people do not buckle down about finishing their estate planning and estate documents up until late in life. Even when they do, they focus on which people will inherit the concrete possessions– such as homes, land, cash, fashion jewelry, stock and other investments.
Nevertheless, less attention is placed on the intangible possessions– such as works of authorship, developments, brand names and trade secrets. Lots of people might think that they do not have intangible properties, however, in today’s world, most individuals regularly utilize social media and internet tools– allowing them to write and comment by means of various platforms daily. As a part of the estate planning process, one need to determine their intellectual property.
Intangible possessions result from the creative power of the human mind. Works of authorship, developments, brands, and trade secrets are all produced utilizing our intelligence and creativity. While not everybody can be a popular author, singer, artist or innovator, one may still own some copyright rights.
As an example, copyright law provides defense for works of authorship. Some people are authors of articles, books, sheet music, and site material. Others are creators of software application code for different items, while others create paintings, drawings, photos, videos and sound recordings. For an individual author, these copyrights last for the life of the author plus seventy years. Plainly, the next generation will have rights that might be important if dealt with appropriately.
Several years back, my clients who have actually composed lots of books got in into a long term license agreement for usage of these copyrights in exchange for specific royalty payments. The licensee was likewise certified to make acquired works– implying works that are based upon these pre-existing books. This license arrangement might continue after the life of the authors– supplying a yearly royalty profits stream to the heirs.
Many people utilize social media tools every day. Decisions ought to be made about what occurs to all of that content upon one’s death. To understand the suitable rights, one has to evaluate the terms of service for the applicable social media platform. Whether the content that one has written has worth or not, one ought to decide if the social networks account must stay open or be closed following death. As an example, Facebook u00ae permits either the closing of the account or the conversion of the account into one for memorialization following death.
It is essential to differentiate in one’s will between tangible personal property and intellectual property, and specifically designate to whom one wants to leave the latter. Intellectual property rights have unique requirements for preserving such rights, and they position distinct company concerns to commercially exploit these rights. As an example, under specific circumstances, copyright law permits one to terminate a copyright transfer that was made 35 years prior. It sometimes makes good sense to select a specialized executor for these assets and rights.
One should think about transfers at death that are made via living trusts, which avoid probate. They likewise enable for management of intangible properties if and when one might be immobilized. In addition, one can move ownership of their intellectual property to legal entities such as corporations and minimal liability business, for ease and continuity of management and to facilitate the transfer.
Looking at another form of intellectual property, trade tricks provide defense for information that a person conceals. Trade secrets consist of the formula for Coca-Cola u00ae and the recipe for KFC u00ae chicken. There is no doubt that this formula and dish are quite important. Even an owner of a regional neighborhood restaurant may have a trade secret in the kind of a recipe for unique barbeque sauce or unique pizza sauce, or a recipe for a European dessert. Trade secrets last permanently so long as they are kept secret.
Patent law offers defense for innovations. The next generation might inherit the exclusive rights to omit others from making and selling items and services under the invention. Patent rights last for twenty years for the energy and plant patent. Maintenance costs are due regularly so that the patent rights are not cancelled and lost. If one’s beneficiaries will not directly use the patented rights, then a patent license to third parties in exchange for a royalty may be appropriate.
In conclusion, as part of the estate planning procedure, a list of all intangible properties and intellectual property rights must be developed. One must decide how to move those assets and rights upon death, and whether to move such assets into a legal entity well prior to death. The next generation needs to understand one’s wishes and be well notified about how to preserve and commercially exploit these assets. The services of an intellectual property attorney should be retained to help in the efforts of the estate planning attorney and the monetary consultant.