Intellectual Property And Houston Divorces
Texas law concerning marital property makes no differentiation between tangible and intangible property. Couples most often remember to include tangible property, or physical property, during a divorce. Couples, however, sometimes forget to also include intangible property during a divorce, which cannot be physically touched. One of the types of intangible property that is most often forgotten by divorcing couples is intellectual property, which includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.
While there are many articles that exist addressing the role that intellectual property plays when artists divorce, intellectual property can also come into consideration in many other circumstances. For example, a divorce between spouses that involves a business with intellectual property in the form of software or patented ideas must be sure to consider the role that intellectual property plays in property division. Intellectual property can play a complicated and distinct role in a divorce, and it is wise for divorcing couples to understand the issues that intellectual property introduces.
The Valuation Of Intellectual Property
One of the most difficult aspects about handling intellectual property during a divorce is that it can be very difficult to assign intellectual property an exact dollar value. With tangible property, valuation is often not an obstacle because the value of an item is determined by the price for which the item would sell. For intellectual property, however, an object’s value can be much more complicated and open to various interpretations. If the intellectual property generates a revenue, then this amount will be taken into consideration when determining value. If an income source is not directly connected to the intellectual property, an analyst will likely need to be involved in determining the property’s value.
The Importance Of A Timeline
The timeline of when intellectual property was acquired is a critical factor during divorces. If the intellectual property was acquired before marriage, this property will be considered to be marital property and therefore the property will not be subject to division between spouses. If an intellectual property increased in value or was used as a means of support by spouses during a marriage then the intellectual property might be considered a joint asset and subject to division between spouses. Courts are also likely to exclude from division any intellectual property value that increased after a marriage.
Courts are likely to determine that creative control should remain with the spouse who owns the intellectual property. This approach allows the spouse who created the intellectual property to maximize the work’s potential income and create greater income for support awards.
If you are facing a divorce in Houston or other areas of Texas, stop to consider whether any type of intellectual property might be involved in the property division between spouses. Understand that if your divorce does include the division of intellectual property, it is an extremely wise idea to contact the experienced attorneys at Conner & Lindamood, P.C. in Galveston to help ensure that your case reaches the most fair division of property possible.