Patenting an invention or idea is a way of protecting something that you have developed so that others cannot profit. It will be important that you determine a plan for your patent while you are still living to eliminate any future discord when loved ones are determining how your assets will be dispersed.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property law protects a person’s intangible assets. Intellectual property is different from the usual type of property that a person or entity may own. Intellectual property is usually not tangible because it is based off of someone’s idea or creation. Intellectual property rights allow for a person who has created something the right to their idea. Creative works could include:

  • Architectural Designs
  • Inventions
  • Music/Songs
  • Logos
  • Symbols
  • Famous Recipes
  • Client Lists

Intellectual property rights are achieved through one or more of the following types of intellectual property:

  • Copyrights
  • Trademarks
  • Trade Secrets
  • Patents

What is a Patent?

When a person invents something, they will want to ensure that no one can sell their product without obtaining permission first. A patent protects a person’s invention, giving them the exclusive rights to the invention. A patent usually provides protection to a person’s invention for up to 20 years.    

Unauthorized Use of a Patent

When a person uses intellectual property without the owner’s permission, they have infringed on the owner’s legal rights. If this occurs, they may find themselves involved in legal proceedings. It will be important to speak with an attorney regarding how to move forward if a patent is used without your permission.

Protecting a Patent in an Estate Plan

Developing an estate plan is not something reserved for the wealthy, most people have an estate that will need to be planned prior to their passing. An estate plan is the process of putting together a plan that indicates who will benefit from the assets within your estate. An estate plan will include things such as:

  • Property
  • Vehicles
  • An indication of guardianship if you have minor children
  • Bank Accounts
  • Retirement Accounts such as 401Ks and Pensions

Some may choose to transfer ownership of a patent to a loved one prior to their passing. This can be a difficult decision to make when it comes to whether or not you will do this while you are still living or include it in your estate plan. If you choose to wait, it will be important to indicate who will inherit the patent. If you do not distinguish a specific person to inherit the patent, it will be divided amongst your beneficiaries. If you pass away before you are able to protect your patent, your beneficiary will be able to take the necessary steps to protect your patent.

Thinking about death is something that no one wants to consider, however, creating your estate plan is a process that is vital in order to ensure that your final wishes are carried out.  It is likely that you will want to protect your patent from being used by others who are unauthorized to do so after you pass away. Working with a patent lawyer relies on who has knowledge of both estate planning and intellectual property will be important when protecting your patent.