Intellectual Property and Domestic Relations: Issues to Consider When There is an Artist, Author, Inventor, or Celebrity in the House


This article articulates some of the special issues raised by intellectual property in the context of family-law-oriented concerns. It also necessarily explores the characteristics and properties of personal intellectual property in a broader sense. What follows is an overview of the special issues and concerns intellectual property might present in the context of divorce, estate planning, or probate. Please keep one important caveat in mind: Intellectual property has become a very dynamic area of the law. Governing federal patent, copyright, and trademark statutes are extensively amended with astounding frequency. Right of publicity and trade secret law are also constantly evolving. Legislative proposals that would significantly alter certain aspects of intellectual property law are constantly proposed and may be adopted by Congress (or by individual states) at any time. In addition, courts play a large role in delineating the scope of intellectual property protections, and the judiciary, through its role as adjudicator of intellectual property disputes, has (and will continue to have) a profound effect on the continually shifting landscape of rights, obligations, and privileges associated with intellectual property.

Publication Date

Fall 9-1-2001

Journal Title

Family Law Quarterly

Document Type


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