Technology and protectable intellectual property have become more and more central to business success and competitive advantage. As such, in the negotiation of strategic alliances and development agreements, the ownership and use of intellectual property created during the relationship can become a hot topic. Frequently someone will suggest a solution: Both parties should jointly own the IP. This is almost always a bad idea.
This article will describe how joint ownership works, illustrate the problems and unintended consequences, and provide some suggested alternatives. We will focus primarily on patents and copyrights, and to some degree on trade secrets.
Example Problem #2: Differing treatment under U.S. law for exploiting patents and copyrights