Assignment of intellectual property rights

The intellectual property assignment is a transfer of an owner’s rights, title and interest in certain intellectual property rights. The transferring party (“assignor”) transfers to the receiving party (“assignee”) its property in intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, industrial designs and copyrights.

The owner of the intellectual property rights may transfer all or part of his rights – e.g. the copyright owner could assign only some of his economic prerogatives. The transfer of intellectual property rights is made upon a payment of a lump sum or royalties.

Unlike licence agreements, which grant permission to use intellectual property under certain conditions, as a general rule assignments are transfers of property rights, with no conditions under which the rights will be used.

For Trademarks: An assignment is a transfer of ownership of a trademark application or trademark registration from one entity to another.

For Patents: An assignment involves the sale and transfer of ownership of a patent by the assignor to the assignee.

For Copyright: An assignment is a transfer of the copyright owner’s economic rights. In contrast to the economic rights under copyright, moral rights cannot be sold or assigned to another person (moral rights are the right to be identified as the author of the work or to object to derogatory treatment or to a distortion or mutilation of the work, to protect the personality and reputation of authors).

The assignment of intellectual property rights can be made as a separate transaction of intangible assets, or it may occur as part of much larger acquisitions of assets such as sales of business assets, mergers or stock purchases. However, ownership of intangible assets is not affected by the mere acquisition of shares in a company.

To be valid and effective, an assignment of intellectual property rights should comply with specified requirements. These requirements will vary depending on the jurisdiction, national laws and regulations and will relate to the form of the assignment agreement (written agreement or not), the identification of the parties, the subject of the contract and sometimes with the obligation to declare and record the assignment within a specific register.

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© European Union [2020]

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