Joint Ownership

The ability to transfer these various property rights becomes especially interesting when the ownership is "joint," that is, shared among multiple people. Because ownership of intellectual property originates with its creators, joint-ownership situations are a common result of collaborations that produce inventions or creations. When multiple people create intellectual property together, each of them shares in all the rights and has the ability to transfer those rights.

This is profound. If a team of five people develop an invention and are granted a patent to it, any one of them can grant any of the intellectual-property rights it represents to another—even against the wishes of the others. If the inventors have different interests, no matter what the reason, each of their interests can be frustrated by the others. If a group of four of them were developing a product in anticipation of selling it, their ability to use the patent in trying to enhance their market share could be thwarted by the fifth freely granting licenses to the patent to any potential competitors.

Because of this, some effort is usually made to have the intellectual property owned by a single entity, very frequently a corporation. This ensures that decisions, whether they be good or bad ones, are at least made with some definiteness. When a corporation owns the intellectual property, decisions about how to use it—whether to grant licenses under it, whether to sue others to prevent infringement, and so forth—are made according to the mechanism that the corporation uses to make any of its decisions. Depending on the articles under which the entity is incorporated, such decisions could be made by a vote among directors or shareholders, or by administrative actions taken by officers of the corporation.

0 0

Post a comment