As the heatwaves hit, so did the wave of interns applying for roles in businesses.
Whether interns are with you for a few weeks during the summer or on a placement year in between their degree, you should ensure you have your intellectual property position covered.
Bringing interns to your business can help breathe fresh life into some of your projects. But be careful, unlike employees, the starting point in law is that interns will own any intellectual property they create for your business.
How can I protect my business?
The best thing do is have a written agreement in place before the intern starts at your business. The agreement doesn’t have to be long. It just needs to set out that they assign all current and future intellectual property to your business whilst they are on the internship.
The above will help avoid a situation where the intern designs a snazzy new logo for the business, and you come to sell your business and discover you need to pay the intern a handsome sum to get the intellectual property assigned over to your business.
The internship agreement should also make it clear that certain things they see during their placement will be confidential information and commercially sensitive (and shouldn’t be shared!). Having a strong confidentiality provision in the agreement will mitigate the risk of the intern sharing your trade secrets when they land a job with your competitor. But in the event the confidential information is shared, you will have a written agreement to fall back on to help establish a breach of confidence claim.
What about freelancers and consultants?
That’s a good question. Unless there is a written agreement that says otherwise, freelancers and consultants you use will also own the intellectual property in the work they complete for you. The bottom line is to check the agreements they send you carefully. Ordinarily the freelancer will be granting you a licence to use the intellectual property, but like with most things in the world it’s best for you to own the IP outright in order to increase the value of your business.
How we can help
We regularly review existing agreements our clients have in place to suggest how they can be improved. We are also able to provide our clients with bespoke agreements so they can be used on a case-by-case basis when interns, freelancers or consultants are engaged.
Written by Dan Crate – Solicitor
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