The World Intellectual Property Organization defines intellectual property as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images sued in commerce.” Typically, intellectual property is protected by legal mechanisms such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights that help people achieve and maintain recognition and financial benefits from things they have created. While intellectual property has many specific laws to help govern it and some attorneys choose to focus their practice on intellectual property law, intellectual property is personal property and can be an important part of comprehensive estate planning.
Distributing Intellectual Property
There are several considerations that come into play when determining how to distribute intellectual property. For some people, intellectual property can be the main source of their financial livelihood. Others may have inherited or otherwise acquired certain intellectual property rights throughout their lifetime and use them for supplemental income purposes. Regardless of the way in which you came to possess intellectual property, if you want to continue benefiting from it then you can and should keep personal possession of it until you no longer depend on or desire the income from it. If you do maintain control over intellectual property, make sure that you have provided for its distribution in your estate planning in case of unforeseen circumstances.