With apologies to godaddy.com, do you know who owns your business’ website and domain name? In this digital age, more and more of your business’ assets are of the digital variety. In addition to a website and domain name, your business probably has e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, just to name a few. And while the law in terms of ownership of digital assets is new and constantly evolving, who “owns” such digital assets and other intangible “intellectual” property (such as names, logos, slogans, proprietary processes, marketing materials, etc.) must be considered in order to fully protect some of your business’ most valuable assets.
While at first blush this might seem obvious, the present state of the law is generally that such assets are owned by the individual that created them, rather than the company itself. This can create some obvious business succession planning issues if, for example, the “IT guy” who registered the company’s domain and created the website is terminated. Or if that creative employee in marketing who came up with the company’s logo or slogan dies. Whose website/logo/slogan is it? Will your company have the continued right to use it? These are just a couple examples; the same holds true for other digital assets and intellectual property.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has an on-line assessment tool you can take to determine if your business has any intellectual property that needs to be assigned to the company and if any further steps are needed to protect it: http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/assessment/
We recommend that you use this simple tool to determine if any of your business’ assets are at risk. If so, we can help you make sure they are assigned to your company so you will always have the right to use them.
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