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You or the Company. Who Should Own the Intellectual Property?

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Before we get anywhere with this post please know that I don’t have the answer the question in title of this post.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way. This story begins with a podcast from NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz when he interviewed Sir James Dyson the billionaire industrial designer and inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner.

In the podcast he talked about his first invention the BallBarrow, this was a modified version of a wheelbarrow using a ball instead of a wheel. Now at the time, the patents of the BallBarrow where registered under the company, and when things went south with Sir James and the board, he had to leave the company he founded and his inventions behind.

He says after all that he had learned to always register his patents under his own name and not the company, to personally own his intellectual property.

That makes total sense, I mean Jay-Z and Nipsey Hussle have thought us to own our own copyrights. So when it happens that the board of directors do you like Steve Jobs in the ’80s, leaving you in a position where you have to leave the company you founded, you can at least still have all your IP.


In today’s world though, I don’t know how I feel about registering intellectual property under my name and then licensing it to a start-up that I founded and then going to investors, telling them to put money in a company that I’m also taking money out of.

It’s no secret that a company, especially a start-up is seen to have more value when it has some form of IP, but for the most part, I think it’s for the wrong reasons. Like if the start-up goes burst then investors know that they can sell those off to make some money back.

But there’s also the leverage part, having IP means the company has some form of monopoly in the industry it operates in and with an upside of making more money through licensing to others.

So this is really a difficult one, do you keep all the IP that you created outside the company under your name or give it the start-up and help it become more attractive to investors, etc helping grow quicker?

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