What are the implications of joint ownership of trademarks, designs etc?
What are the implications of joint ownership of trademarks, designs, integrated circuits, or plant varieties?
Each of these categories of intellectual property is governed by its own legislation.
However, none of the 4 relevant pieces of legislation deals with joint ownership.
If there was joint ownership of any of these types of intellectual property, it could be the outcome of the joint owners being partners, or again, standing in relation to each other in a position of trust and confidence, as is the case with confidential information.
That being so, where the joint owners are silent about their respective rights and obligations as joint owners of intellectual property, the position may be not unlike that which applies in relation to copyright, and confidential information, that is:
|Can a joint owner of the intellectual property exploit (copy/reproduce) it without the consent of the other joint owner, and without accounting to the other joint owner for any of the profits from doing so?
|Can a joint owner of the intellectual property work assign its interest in the intellectual property work without the consent of the other joint owner?
|Can a joint owner of the intellectual property grant an exclusive licence of the intellectual property (a know- how licence) without the consent of the other joint owner?
The result again is that neither 'joint owner' can realise any economic benefits whatsoever, without doing so together.
The lesson, again, is that it is not desirable to be silent on these issues of exploitation, assignment and licensing, but rather, to specifically address them, and for a joint ownership agreement to regulate in an agreed manner the respective rights of the joint owners in relation to these 3 critical questions.
- Last reviewed: 26 Sep 2020
- Last updated: 13 Jun 2016