Like most other forms of property, Intellectual Property has a value which can be sold, shared and transferred within divorce proceedings. If one party owns Intellectual Property or benefits from Intellectual Property rights, then it must be considered when dividing the matrimonial assets.
One example of Intellectual Property which is becoming increasingly relevant is royalties received in relation to music. Performers in the UK can receive royalties from record sales for 70 years after a song is released. The person who composed the music is entitled to receive royalties for their entire life and their estate can benefit for a further 70 years after their death. Royalties can therefore hold a significant value and provide an income for the performers and composers for an extensive period of time.
In the context of divorce, it must be considered what the value of the royalties are and what income is expected to be received in the future. Intellectual property rights can be complex to value and assess, often a company will also be utilised by the rights holder to receive such payments and there can be subsequent tax implications. It is therefore essential that an appropriate expert is instructed to provide a valuation and report on the rights derived from such royalties.
In 2008 as part of a divorce settlement, it was agreed that Tricia Ronane, the now ex-wife of Paul Simonon of The Clash, would receive a share of the bands future income. This year the parties returned to Court as she was seeking to sell her rights to the royalties for a reported £5 million. The sale was subsequently blocked by a High Court Judge. This case highlights how the rights to royalties cannot simply be overlooked within divorce proceedings and can be one of the most valuable assets within a marriage.
If you or your husband or wife have rights to any form of Intellectual Property, it is essential to seek the advice from a specialist lawyer with appropriate expertise dealing with such matters. At Stephens Scown, the Family team not only benefit from a wealth of experience advising in such cases, but also have the benefit of an in house Intellectual Property team to assist with the complexities where necessary.