Are You Sure Your Company Owns That Copyright? The Work for Hire Doctrine

As merger and acquisition activity begins to pick up, following the worst recession in decades, our clients have begun positioning themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities a recovery will bring. When examining their intellectual property portfolios to make sure all assets are in order in the event of a quick sale or needed due diligence, one of the areas in which intellectual property problems frequently occur involves proving ownership of your copyrights (i.e., “chain-of-title”). Although this Advisory is applicable to all businesses, it is targeted particularly to our clients in the software, video game, investment management, and financial services sectors and highlights the problems and solutions surrounding an often unknown or ignored but very important copyright concept called the “work for hire” doctrine. If not addressed at the time it first becomes relevant, these often complicated chain-of-title issues can become expensive and time-consuming, potentially delaying a closing.

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