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Q&A: How can I safeguard my company’s intellectual property when working with independent contractors?

Clarifying Questions

Q & A:

QUESTION

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Q:    How can I safeguard my company’s intellectual property when working with independent contractors?

—Busy Boss

 

ANSWER

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A:     Dear Busy:


Unlike employees, with whom you generally own automatic copyrights to everything they produce while working for you, independent contractors (ICs) typically retain full copyrights to their work—unless they’ve signed a written agreement stating otherwise. Indeed, if you don’t have properly drafted agreements in place, you may not even own the work you pay ICs to produce for you. 

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to secure full ownership of these works by using the proper legal agreements, such as work-for-hire, copyright-assignment, and non-disclosure agreements. However, this is only possible if you actually put these agreements in place with every IC you work with—and yes, this means every single person, even those you have worked with for years without a single problem.

As your Family Business Lawyer™, we can support you to prepare these agreements for your company, or review your existing agreements if you already have them in place—even agreements prepared by another lawyer.

 

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