ASSIGNMENT AND TRANSFER AGREEMENT
This Assignment and Transfer Agreement (“Agreement”) is made as of _________ __, 20__ (“Effective Date”) between ________________. (“Assignee”), and ________________ (“Assignor”). In consideration of the mutual promises and covenants contained in this Agreement, the parties agree as follows:
1.1 “Assigned Property” means the property listed in Exhibit A and all Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights forming a part of, embodied, in or necessary for use of the property.
1.2 “Intellectual Property” means all technology and intellectual property, regardless of form, including without limitation: published and unpublished works of authorship, including without limitation audiovisual works, collective works, computer programs, compilations, databases, derivative works, literary works, maskworks, and sound recordings (“Works of Authorship”); inventions and discoveries, including without limitation articles of manufacture, business methods, compositions of matter, improvements, machines, methods, and processes and new uses for any of the preceding items (“Inventions”); words, names, symbols, devices, designs, and other designations, and combinations of the preceding items, used to identify or distinguish a business, good, group, product, or service or to indicate a form of certification, including without limitation logos, product designs, and product features (“Trademarks”); and information that is not generally known or readily ascertainable through proper means, whether tangible or intangible, including without limitation algorithms, customer lists, ideas, designs, formulas, know-how, methods, processes, programs, prototypes, systems, and techniques (“Confidential Information”).
1.3 “Intellectual Property Rights” means all rights in, arising out of, or associated with Intellectual Property in any jurisdiction, including without limitation: rights in, arising out of, or associated with Works of Authorship, including without limitation rights in maskworks and databases and rights granted under the Copyright Act (“Copyrights”); rights in, arising out of, or associated with Inventions, including without limitation rights granted under the Patent Act (“Patent Rights”); rights in, arising out of, or associated with Trademarks, including without limitation rights granted under the Lanham Act (“Trademark Rights”); rights in, arising out of, or associated with Confidential Information, including without limitation rights granted under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“Trade Secret Rights”); rights in, arising out of, or associated with a person’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, including without limitation rights of personality, privacy, and publicity (“Personality Rights”); rights of attribution and integrity and other moral rights of an author (“Moral Rights”); and rights in, arising out of, or associated with domain names (“Domain Name Rights”).
2. Assignment. Assignor hereby perpetually, irrevocably, and unconditionally assigns, transfers, and conveys to Assignee and its successors and assigns, all of Assignor’s right, title, and interest in and to the Assigned Property. Assignor further perpetually, irrevocably, and unconditionally assigns, transfers, and conveys to Assignee and its successors and assigns all claims for past, present and future infringement or misappropriation of the Intellectual Property Rights included in the Assigned Property, including all rights to sue for and to receive and recover all profits and damages accruing from an infringement misappropriation prior to the Effective Date as well as the right to grant releases for past infringements. Assignor hereby waives and agrees not to enforce all Moral Rights and all Personality Rights that Assignor may have in the Assigned Property.
3. Consideration. In consideration for assignments made by Assignor under this Agreement, Assignee will pay Assignor $________ dollars.
4. Confidentiality. Assignor must not use any Confidential Information assigned as part of the Assigned Property except for the benefit of Assignee. Assignor must not disclose such Confidential Information to third parties. Assignor must take reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality and secrecy of such Confidential Information and to prevent the unauthorized use or disclosure of such Confidential Information. Any breach of these restrictions will cause irreparable harm to Assignee and will entitle Assignee to injunctive relief in addition to all applicable legal remedies.
5. Representations and Warranties. Assignor represents and warrants to Assignee that: Assignor exclusively owns all right, title, and interest in and to the Assigned Property; Assignor has not granted and will not grant any licenses or other rights to the Assigned Property to any third party; the Assigned Property is free of any liens, encumbrances, security interests, and restrictions on transfer; to Assignor’s knowledge, the Intellectual Property that is assigned as part of the Assigned Property does not infringe Intellectual Property Rights of any third party; and there are no legal actions, investigations, claims, or proceedings pending or threatened relating to the Assigned Property.
6. Indemnification. Assignor will defend, indemnify, and hold harmless Assignee, and Assignee’s officers, directors, shareholders, successors, and assigns, from and against all losses, liabilities, and costs including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys’ fees, expenses, penalties, judgments, claims and demands of every kind and character that Assignee, its officers, directors, shareholders, successors, and assigns may incur, suffer, or be required to pay arising out of, based upon, or by reason of: the breach by Assignor of any of the representations or warranties made by Assignor under this Agreement; Assignor’s use of the Assigned Property prior to the date of this Agreement; or Assignor’s failure to perform its obligations under this Agreement.
7. Further Assurances
7.1 Assistance. Assignor will take all action and execute all documents as Assignee may reasonably request to effectuate the transfer of the Assigned Property and the vesting of complete and exclusive ownership of the Assigned Property in Assignee. In addition, Assignor will, at the request and sole cost and expense of Assignee, but without additional compensation, promptly sign, execute, make, and do all such deeds, documents, acts, and things as Assignee may reasonably require:
(a) to apply for, obtain, register, maintain and vest in the name of Assignee alone (unless Assignee otherwise directs) Intellectual Property Rights protection relating to any or all of the Assigned Property in any country throughout the world, and when so obtained or vested, to renew and restore the same;
(b) to defend any judicial, opposition, or other proceedings in respect of such applications and any judicial, opposition, or other proceedings or petitions or applications for revocation of such Intellectual Property Rights; and
(c) to assist Assignee with the defense and enforcement of its rights in any registrations issuing from such applications and in all Intellectual Property Rights protection in the Intellectual Property.
7.2 Power of Attorney. If at any time Assignee is unable, for any reason, to secure Assignor’s signature on any letters patent, copyright, or trademark assignments or applications for registrations, or other documents or filings pertaining to any or all of the Assigned Property, whether because of Assignor’s unwillingness, or for any other reason whatsoever, Assignor hereby irrevocably designates and appoints Assignee and its duly authorized officers and agents as its agents and attorneys-in-fact, to act for and on its behalf and stead to execute and file any and all such applications, registrations, and other documents and to do all other lawfully permitted acts to further the prosecution thereon with the same legal force and effect as if executed by Assignor.
8.1 Injunctive Relief. A breach of this Agreement may result in irreparable harm to Assignee and a remedy at law for any such breach will be inadequate, and in recognition thereof, Assignee will be entitled to injunctive and other equitable relief to prevent any breach or the threat of any breach of this Agreement by Assignor without showing or proving actual damages.
8.2 Binding on Successors. This Agreement will inure to the benefit of, and be binding upon, the parties, together with their respective representatives, successors, and assigns, except that Assignor may not assign this Agreement without the consent of Assignee.Assignee may assign this Agreement in its discretion.
8.3 Governing Law and Jurisdiction. This Agreement will be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York without reference to its conflict of laws provisions.With respect to any dispute arising out of or related to this Agreement, the parties consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of, and venue in, the federal and state courts located in New York County, New York.
8.4 Amendment and Waiver. This Agreement may not be amended or modified unless mutually agreed upon in writing by the parties and no waiver will be effective unless signed by the party from whom such waiver is sought. The waiver by any party of a breach of any provision of this Agreement will not operate or be construed as a waiver of any subsequent breach.
8.5 Severability. If any provision of this Agreement is held invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such invalidity will not affect the validity or operation of any other provision, and the invalid provision will be deemed severed from this Agreement.
8.6 Entire Agreement. This Agreement is the entire agreement concerning the subject matter hereof. It supersedes all prior and contemporaneous agreements, assurances, representations, and communications between the parties.
If you are contemplating creating a technology startup, an important part of the formation of the company should include an intellectual property (IP) assignment agreement.
What Is an Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement?
Intellectual property is legally defined as a work or invention that is the result of creativity to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a trademark, patent, copyright, or other appropriate protection to keep others from using it without permission.
Works or inventions are typically books or designs but can include ideas or a work product, which includes software programs.
An assignment agreement is a contract that transfers the rights to the intellectual property from the creator to another entity, such as a company. Individuals being hired into research and development or other technical areas sign the agreements to assign to the company, in advance, any ideas, work products, or inventions related to the company business.
Simply put, the company owns the intellectual property, not the employee(s).
If you do not currently have an attorney assisting you with your assignment agreement, before proceeding with your agreement.
Types of Assignment Agreements
A technology assignment agreement assigns your startup any intellectual property before you form the company. The developer(s) may retain individual intellectual property rights under certain circumstances, or they may sell the rights to you for equity or cash.
An invention assignment agreement assigns a new company ownership of any relevant intellectual property created by employees after the company is formed. The agreement typically includes the founder(s) and employees as signatories to a confidentiality agreement and an invention assignment agreement.
The Need for an IP Assignment Agreement
Assignment agreements for startups are a necessity. An intellectual property assignment agreement is a key legal document that investors look for when deciding whether to fund you.
Startup founders should have complete ownership, in writing, of all intellectual property assets during the formation of the company. Not only is the legal ownership a requirement for most investors, but it can also keep patent trolls and companies that want to copy your products at bay.
Key Points for an Assignment Agreement
A couple of key points should be included in the agreement for the best legal protection.
- The employee must promptly disclose to the company any inventions, ideas, discoveries, and work product related to the company’s business that were made during the period of employment.
- The company is the owner of the inventions, ideas, discoveries, and work product.
If you are hiring an employee to invent or develop a work product, the rights to those inventions and work products are yours if they were created at your request and expense.
This last is an important point when hiring a software developer. The developer is strictly hired to create a work product, namely a software program or application. If the developer completes the project and then leaves your company, the intellectual property rights are yours.
However, it wouldn’t hurt to have that developer sign an intellectual property assignment agreement, just to prevent problems in the future.
Provisions to Include in an Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement
There is no standard form for assignment agreements so each must be carefully worded and signed by the employee or developer for it to be binding. If the agreement is part of the employee handbook or other employee guidelines, you need to work with an attorney to make certain it will still be legally binding if the signature is on a separate employment agreement document.
In general, most assignment agreements have at least three provisions in common.
The assignment provision requires employees to assign their inventions to the employer, so the employer has total ownership of the intellectual property. This provision could be narrowed to employee inventions only or broadened to include nearly anything the employee creates.
“I agree that all inventions that are (a) developed using equipment, supplies, facilities, or trade secrets of the company; or (b) result from work performed by me for the company; or (c) related to the Company’s current or anticipated research and development will be the Company’s sole and exclusive property and are hereby assigned by me to the Company.”
A disclosure provision requires employees to inform the employer of the existence of intellectual property that was developed according to the assignment provision.
“While I am employed by the Company, I will promptly inform the Company of the full details of all inventions, discoveries, improvements, and innovations, whether or not patentable, copyrightable, or otherwise protectable, that I conceive, complete, or reduce to practice (whether jointly or with others) and which: (a) relate to the Company’s present or prospective business, or actual or demonstrably anticipated research and development or (b) result from any work I do using any equipment, facilities, materials, trade secrets, or personnel of the Company or (c) result from or are suggested by any work that I may do for the Company.”
Power of Attorney
This particular clause is fairly standard. The power of attorney provision guarantees the employer can register and administer the ownership rights without the employee, regardless of whether the employee is willing and able to assist.
“If the Company is unable to secure my signature on any document necessary to obtain or maintain any patent, copyright, trademark, or other proprietary rights, whether due to my mental or physical capacity or any other cause, I hereby irrevocably designate and appoint the Company and its duly authorized offers and agents as my agents and attorneys-in-fact to execute and file such documents and do all other lawfully permitted acts to further the prosecution, issuance, and enforcement of patents, copyrights, and other proprietary rights with the same force and effect as if executed by me.”
To protect your most important assets and to signal to investors that your startup has valuable intellectual property to use as the foundation of a successful business, you should require an intellectual property assignment agreement signed by everyone involved with the company you are forming, founders, employees, and developers alike.