When parties go through divorce and list the assets of the community they of course will think of the house, any other “real property” they may own such as land, and personal property such as cars and other tangible items. One category of property that ought not be forgotten, as it is often worth the most, is intellectual property (IP).
Intellectual property, as the name suggests, covers pretty much anything that you (or in the divorce context, your spouse) came up with. Black's Law Dictionary defines it as, “[c]ategory of intangible rights protecting commercially valuable products of the human intellect. The category comprises primarily trademark, copyright, and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights against unfair competition.” This category of property often not only has a current value but an ongoing value.
It is very important that the person representing someone involved in a dissolution where intellectual property is involved not only understand these issues but also understand the ever-changing marketplace. For example, the old way of music being sold through a single channel is long gone. Now you not only have to understand that classic model but the way music is delivered now (Pandora, YouTube, etc.). You have to understand what it is the difference between the various forms of royalties and how to value those (both current and future). And once you value them, you may have to help your client attach those down the line. Who owns the “publishing” rights becomes important and who those rights have been assigned to become even more important (and assuring the assignment was not fraudulent! goes a long way to protecting your client's rights).
By the way, the IP need not have been sold yet to be valuable. If it was created during the marriage then it is community property and has some value. It is up to your attorney to make sure your interest in that property is protected.
There is no such thing as a "run of the mill" marriage. But there are certainly some marriages that are more complicated than others. Contact our office for a free consultation to see how we can help you.