Yes there is a difference in the ownership of these two differently sources of intellectual property. Any Intellectual Property rights created by an employee in the usual course of their employment will be owned by the employer.
However, IP rights created by a freelancer will remain with the freelancer unless they are specifically assigned in writing. The commissioning party will automatically have the right to use the end product, but he won’t own it.
Our intellectual property solicitors recommend that you need to consider whether it is important that you own the rights that the freelancer has created or whether a licence is sufficient:
- IP is valuable – why not have this value in your company rather than leave it with the freelancer;
- Are you contractually obliged to pass on the IP to your customers?
- Do you want to use the IP again with other clients?
What is the difference between an IP licence and an assignment?
Our IP solicitors suggest that the difference is rather like that between renting and owning a house. If you have a licence then you can use the Intellectual Property but you don’t own it. Your use will be subject to certain restrictions such as what you can do with it and where and often provided that you pay an annual licence fee or royalties.
If you have an assignment, then you will own the IP outright. You can do with it what you like without needing to get permission. You could subsequently licence the IP to third parties and reap financial benefit from such agreement – but make sure that in doing so you get the intellectual property advice you need from experienced IP lawyers. Call our specialist lawyers today for city quality intellectual property services at local prices.