Independent Contractors: Please Get It In Writing
If a company’s employee creates intellectual property in the course of performing his or her duties, such as creating a software program or designing a product, the employer automatically owns that intellectual property upon its creation by virtue of the employer/employee relationship. However, if a company retains an independent contractor to create that same software program or product design, the company will not own the underlying intellectual property in the program or product absent a written agreement signed by both parties assigning the intellectual property to the company. And this is true even if the company pays all sums due the contractor for rendering the agreed to services. It is therefore imperative that any company retaining an independent contractor to render services sign a written agreement with the contractor providing that the contractor assigns the company the intellectual property in all products, documents or other tangible or intangible goods created by the contractor (alone or with others) in rendering those services.
If you wish to learn more about employer/employee/contractor relationships, or need assistance with the drafting of contracts with employees or contractors/consultants, please contact Stephen Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (212) 586-5555.