Breaking up with a business partner can be a difficult and emotional process. Not only do you have to navigate the personal and financial aspects of the breakup, but you also need to consider the fate of your intellectual property, including your trademarks. Who owns the trademarks? Can they be transferred? What happens if there is a dispute?
These are important questions that need to be answered to ensure that your business is protected and that you can move forward with confidence.
What Are My Rights?
If you break up with your business partner, the ownership of your trademarks will depend on the terms of your partnership agreement, if any, and the specific circumstances of your situation. Here are some factors to consider:
- The Terms of the Partnership Agreement: The agreement itself will likely outline the process for dividing up assets, including intellectual property in the event of a dissolution or breakup. The agreement may also specify who owns the trademarks and how they will be transferred or sold.
- Your Trademark Registration: If the trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the registration can be assigned or transferred to one or both partners, depending on the agreement or court order.
- Common Law Trademark Rights: If the trademarks are not registered with the USPTO, the ownership rights may depend on common law trademark principles, which can be complicated and depend on various factors, including who used the mark first, who has been using the mark the longest, and who has the most recognizable or distinctive brand in the marketplace.
- Negotiation or Litigation: If there is a dispute over trademark ownership or transfer, the partners may need to negotiate a settlement or, if necessary, litigate the issue in court.
The thought of losing your trademarks can be a major source of anxiety during a partnership breakup. Without a clear plan for transferring or dividing up ownership of the trademarks, the process can quickly become contentious, leading to protracted legal battles that can be both financially and emotionally draining.
If you’re going through a partnership breakup and have questions about the wisest path forward with the least potential for conflict, contact us. We can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, and provide guidance on the best course of action for your unique situation. With our help, you can move forward with confidence and protect your business’s most valuable assets. Simply call (888) 666-0062 or click here to schedule an Initial Discovery Session.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.