Divorce Asset Division: If Relevant, Don’t Forget About IP Rights

A sticking point in the divorce dispute between actor Michael Douglas and his first wife highlights an element of property division that is sometimes ignored yet can be relevant in many dissolution proceedings, whether involving a celebrity or not.

Douglas and his ex-wife agreed that she would be entitled to money post-divorce that accrued from the actor’s involvement in any future spinoff. She is now seeking 50 percent of his earning from the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, claiming that it is a spinoff from the original film. If Douglas’ claim that it is a sequel and not a spinoff prevails, his ex gets nothing.

Welcome to the realm of intellectual property (“IP”) rights, something that is featuring with increased regularity in divorces where one or both of the partners have ownership in property that contrasts to traditional assets such as bank accounts, antiques, houses and cars.

IP rights are best understood in relation to patents, copyrights and trademarks, i.e., creations of the mind that were spawned through creativity. Many people often think of writers, musicians, engineers, actors, designers and scientists when they contemplate intellectual property.

The point: Get full value for it and/or fully protect it in a divorce if you’ve got it, because it can easily be the most valuable asset in a dissolution proceeding.

If you are a Fulton County resident, or live in a surrounding Georgia community, and have questions or concerns regarding intellectual property matters in a divorce, contact a Fulton County law firm with extensive experience handling property division — including high-asset — matters.

Related Resource: Forbes, “The Big Thing Celebrities Fight Most About When They Divorce — And Why You Should, Too” May 3, 2011

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