What Are My IP Rights as an Independent Contractor?

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An employer may require assistance in writing, photography, web design, software code, or otherwise creative contributions to their collective works that are out of the realm of their typical business operations. This is when they may take you on as an independent contractor. But before you offer your services, you must be well versed on what your ownership rights will be. Please continue reading to learn your rights as an independent contractor and how an experienced Essex County, New Jersey intellectual property lawyer at The Ingber Law Firm can help protect them.

What are my intellectual property rights as an independent contractor?

Typically, an independent contractor is expected to maintain ownership of the intellectual property they create. This is even though an employer may pay them to do just that.

Worth mentioning is that this applies only in the absence of an agreement to the contrary. In other words, your intellectual property may not belong to you if the employer had you sign a work-for-hire agreement beforehand. Upon signing this agreement, you are essentially acknowledging that you are forfeiting your rights to the creative work you developed during your time with an employer and for an employer; in which you may have also used an employer’s resources to do so.

This is all to say that, ultimately, your creative work may be categorized as work-for-hire material under United States Copyright Law. So, if you would rather maintain rights over your intellectual property, you must reconsider signing this agreement. It is always possible to negotiate such terms and conditions.

How do these rights differ from that of an employee?

Of note, the same intellectual property rights do not apply to an employee. This is because, put simply, the creative work an employee may make within the scope of their employment is expected to belong to their employer. This sentiment may be expressed in an employee contract, whether there is a clause for assigning ownership; providing information for a trademark or copyright application; providing information about your existing intellectual property rights; or otherwise.

However, even if this is not expressed in the contract, an implied agreement may still stand to be held up by United States Copyright Law. So, if you are a prospective employee, you must address these intellectual property rights before entering a relationship with an employer.

On the other hand, if you are an independent contractor, you must confirm that an employer is not wrongfully misclassifying you as an employee. They may make this illegal attempt to claim that there was an implied agreement to take on ownership over your creative work. If this occurs, you cannot ignore your potential intellectual property dispute for much longer. Instead, you must retain the services of a skilled Essex County, New Jersey intellectual property lawyer from The Ingber Law Firm today.