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Intellectual Property Issues

 Take Precautions
 to Ensure 
 Proper Ownership

One of the most costly— yet easily prevented — disasters for any business is the failure to secure ownership of intellectual property (IP).

Here are the details company owners and executives should know:

Under the law, the ownership of copyrights and inventions may actually belong to your independent contractors and employees, unless there is a prior written agreement to the contrary. Federal copyright law, and the laws of most states, mandate that employees and independent contractors who invent products, write materials and develop software may be the owners of the IP rights.

Unless you take the proper legal steps, you could find that your company doesn't own its most prized possessions.

In some states an employer may only have a limited license in an invention that an employee creates while on the employer's time clock!

Fortunately, you can easily prevent this type of catastrophe. All U.S. states permit employers to require their employees to sign copyright, IP and invention assignment agreements that give all IP rights to the company.

A well-drafted agreement can be less than a single page in length and should be written by an attorney. It requires the employee or contractor to turn over or legally "assign" all rights to the company. In addition, these agreements require the employee or independent contractor to assist the company's counsel in securing and enforcing the rights.

 Another good practice: Ask employees to designate, upfront, all pre-existing inventions that are to be excluded, but to cover all new inventions that are in any way related to your business, even if developed during the employees' non-working hours.

For example, let's say your company makes billing software. This agreement prevents one of your software developers from claiming that he came up with a time management program at night that could be of use to your company — or your competitors.

By following these simple procedures, business owners can avoid tremendous aggravation and loss of property that is truly irreplaceable.

Copyright - The copyright symbol is everywhere, but do you know what it means legally and how it affects your company's Web site? It's imperative that you have a good understanding of copyrights and how to protect the content on your site. Click "Full Article" for some of the critical facts. Ronald J. Cappuccio, J.D., LL.M.(Tax) 1800 Chapel Avenue West Suite 128 Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 Phone:(856) 665-2121      Fax: (856) 665-9005 Email:

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