The term “intellectual property” refers to the rights to ownership and use of “creations of the mind” – such as proprietary and confidential information (customer lists, marketing strategies, manufacturing techniques, etc.), trade secrets, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, patents, and other legally protectable material. Intellectual property is different from other types of property, such as real property and personal property, because it is not tangible. It is an idea or information that is protected under the law, rather than a physical object.
Disputes over intellectual property typically arise over ownership or use of information, or whether something is protected by intellectual property law at all. Not only do businesses have disputes with other businesses over ownership or use of intellectual property, legal issues arise between a business and its own employees over ownership or use of intellectual property.
A frequently encountered issue in the employment relationship concerns whether an employer or employee possesses the right to intellectual property created by an employee. The law recognizes the transfer of intellectual property by contract or other means. In the absence of a valid contract assigning rights to the employer, employees generally possess rights to the intellectual property that the employee creates. It is therefore prudent...
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