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Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner

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IP Ownership

In many cases, you’re looking for a partner who has something that you don’t have. They may have geographic positioning, market share, or technical knowledge.

One of the biggest pitfalls of a joint venture is how well do you trust the partnership you’re getting into.

Take a look at a scenerio exploring 4 potiential problems of a Joint Marketing Agreement.

People may have a poor understanding of what sort of revenue, opportunity, and risks are involved in getting into a joint venture relationship.

Ownership initially rests with the inventors. When you file a patent document, you can name one inventor or multiple inventors that actually collaborated together to come up with the invention.

At its inception, a patent is typically owned by the inventors but those inventors may have an obligation to assign ownership to another entity.

Joint ventures can be three parties, four parties, and can easily get complex. But even a two-person joint venture may have third parties that require confidentiality.

If you're the receiving party, you're getting confidential information from another party. It may very well be that the relationship comes to an end. It may go sour, or you might just move on to other relationships.

Receiving an NDA from a third part is a situation that you have to treat carefully because NDA's come in different degrees of strength.

A question we very often get, particularly with respect to software is should I use patent protection or trade secret protection to protect this software. The kind of gauging question for that really is to figure out, is trade secret protection an option?

Anything that a company regards as its confidential property, treats as confidential, and prevents access by others is something that can be protected by a trade secret.

It's always a difficult question as to whether an NDA should be used with a customer. And part of that is affected by whether you have other NDAs in place with other parties.

You can have written or verbal forms of confidential information. An example of an issue with confidential information, under an NDA, is what do you do about verbal information that’s transferred between two parties?

At the heart of it, an NDA includes a promise not to disclose confidential information. There are also other things that can be included in those agreements.

Once you have entered into an NDA, it is not enough to just rely on the NDA. You actually have to notify the other party of what it is that you consider to be confidential information so that party is on notice that this is confidential information, and is to be treated according to the NDA.

Confidential information can cover a wide variety of types of information. For the topic of intellectual property, we’ll be talking about anything that’s proprietary information to the company related to, for example, a product, or marketing efforts, in the case of trademarks or copyrights.