Inventors, investors, shareholders, they all want a piece when it comes to owning IP assets. The easiest and “fair” way is through co-ownership. Joint ventures, strategic alliances, cooperation agreements, angel investors typically expect to own any resulting additional IP.
Keep it simple: avoid co-ownership of IP assets because in IP complexity is the enemy of execution. Co-ownership impacts valuation negatively, makes title transfer harder, slows down decision making, and makes the assets unattractive for angel investors and banks. Instead, supplement the project with licensing, buy backs, future transfers of assets, preferential distribution rights, voting rights, types of stock… Think about control, not ownership.
Think of a joint owner of a patent granting an exclusive license to someone while the other joint owner grants multiple non-exclusive patents to other licensees. Now, each licensee has different quality standards and the goods sold with the patent are sold under a brand also owned by the patent co-owners. What if the exclusive licensee sues for breach? Fun, isn’t it.
If you have IP assets subject to co-owners but cannot use it or exploit it to the fullest extent, schedule a call with us to discuss your project and goals.