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11 Surprising Copyrighted or Trademarked Phrases
A trademarked or copyrighted phrase is a group of words that a person or company holds exclusive rights to, but there are some key differences between the two. Copyright registration, which is a way to protect an original work, began in the U.S. with the Copyright Act of 1790. A trademark is a way for a business or person to secure the rights to something that exists but already has pre-existing associations. For example, Donald Trump and Cardi B. have tried securing “you’re fired” and “okurr,” respectively, with trademarks. Those phrases already existed, and, in both instances, the powers that be did not see a strong case for either of the phrases to receive a trademark.
Fantasy and science fiction authors like J.K. Rowling have copyrighted many phrases due to the way these writers invent new vocabulary and worlds. Rowling and her publisher sued a fan site in 2008 for trying to publish a book about the Harry Potter universe and won. The fansite had to alter the book but was able to publish a version of it in 2009.
That said, copyright is a serious matter, but it’s also full of surprises. Turning words and ideas into property still seems strange, especially when the phrases in question are so commonplace. Let’s dive deeper into what copyrighted phrases are and review some of our favorites.
How to Obtain a Trademark or Copyright
Before we get into the surprising phrases that are either copyrighted or trademarked, let’s look at how you secure a copyright. Perhaps surprisingly, it can be done from home. Over on copyright.gov , run by the U.S. Government’s Copyright Office, it’s never been easier to apply for copyright. On the website anyone can submit a proposal for a copyrighted phrase and it provides information on laws and regulations.
Trademarked phrases require a separate department, the U.S. Department of Patents and Trademarks, and process. Their website has guidelines for registering a trademark and other important policies. Additionally, both departments allow you to search the copyright and trademark records.With that said, here are 11 surprising copyrighted or trademarked phrased.
1. “That’s Hot.” | Trademarked by Paris Hilton
On T he Simple Life , Paris Hilton was known for saying this iconic catchphrase. The heiress used the saying with the many people she met while exploring rural life with co-star Nicole Richie. The iconic duo spent much of The Simple Life developing their own slang terms. Truly sliving!
2. “The North remembers.” | Copyrighted and trademarked by “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin
Like J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin invented a fantasy world that nearly defined the early 2010s for many people. All quotes from the book are protected by copyright and other phrases and visual likenesses from the HBO adaptation are protected by trademark.
3. “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” | Trademarked by Michael Buffer
Michael Buffer coined this term while working as an announcer for boxing matches and it soon became wildly popular. Buffer has also been booked to set the scene and say his famous phrase at other sporting events and in movies like Rocky .
4. “Hakuna Matata.” | Trademarked by Disney
Disney may own more intellectual property than any other entity on Earth. For example, Disney currently has the phrase “Hakuna Matata” trademarked, which has understandably upset Swahili people and their anti-colonial allies.
This isn’t the first time Disney has been accused of going too far. In 2013, Disney attempted to trademark Day of the Dead , but since Día de Los Muertos is a widely celebrated holiday, even “the mouse” can’t trademark it.
5. “Just a kid from Akron.” | Trademarked by LeBron James
You may recognize this quote from Space Jam 2 , but the elite athlete has been saying that phrase for years. LeBron James went straight from high school basketball to the NBA, and his hometown has been a presence throughout his journey.
James spends much of his time giving back to the community he came from; you can even get this phrase on a t-shirt that benefits his foundation. There are a lot of other shirts out there with this saying, but, due to trademark laws, James could take those makers to court.
6. “BAM!” | Trademarked by Emeril Lagasse
What a throwback! Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse started saying “BAM!” while filming Emeril: Live in 1997. Lagasse began saying the phrase to keep his crew awake during long days of filming, but it quickly caught on as a popular exclamation beyond the cooking world. The phrase was unique enough and used so widely that Lagasse was approved for a trademark.
7. “This Sick beat”, “Party Like It’s 1989”, & “’Cause We Never Go Out of Style”. | Trademarked by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is no stranger to controversy and we love her for that . It’s okay to say these phrases out loud, but putting them on t-shirts, guitar straps or other merchandise could “go down in flames,” as Swift would say. “Taylor’s Version” was trademarked recently, so she and her team are on their A-game!
8. “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” | Trademarked by Nintendo
As the creators of Donkey Kong, who is more than 40 years old at this point , Nintendo has the rights to this popular phrase. Replicating the likeness of Donkey Kong could also put someone in hot water.
9. The word “Superhero.” | Co-owned by DC and Marvel
It’s rare to see Marvel and DC playing nicely together, but the two titans of the comic-book industry both care deeply for their intellectual property. There haven’t been any noteworthy cases of Marvel or DC pursuing legal action against anybody for the use of “Superhero” or its variations, so this trademark is more like an animal marking their territory.
10. “I Pity the Fool.” | Trademarked by Mister T.
People have been repeating Laurence Tureaud’s catchphrases since his run on The A-Team in the 1980s. The phrase was not trademarked until 2011, which is not very aggressive compared to some of these other phrases on this list that were trademarked right away. Strangely enough, the stage name “Mister T.” is not trademarked… at least not yet.
11. “May the Force Be With You.” | Copyrighted and trademarked by George Lucas, Lucasfilm & (now) Disney
Even prior to being purchased by Disney, Star Wars has been controversial in the trademark landscape. “May the Force Be With You” has been protected by copyright since 1977 . Only gaining momentum since then, Star Wars has become quite the copyright empire. Terms like “Jedi”, “Yoda”, “wookies”, “ewoks”, “lightsabers”, “Darth Vader” and (many) more are all trademarked in some way.
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What Happens to Your Copyrights After You Die?
It’s not exactly fun to think about, but death is something that everyone will have to face eventually. And when creators spend their lives putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their passion, it makes sense that they’d want to protect their copyright post-mortem. Although it’s a popular misconception, copyrighted works do not become public domain once the owner has died (just ask Michael Jackson — who, according to Forbes, was the highest-earning dead celebrity of 2018 ). Additionally, creators don’t only want to protect their legacies; often, the continued copyright protection of their works after their deaths enables their loved ones to receive support even in their absence. But what exactly happens to your copyrights when you pass away? There’s a few things to consider: who owns it, for how long, and what the owners are able to able to use it for.
Extent of Protection
Currently, all copyright-eligible works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for 70 years after the death of their author. This right is granted automatically by the Copyright Act of 1976, which established a 50-year protection period after death, as well as Amendments such as the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended post-mortem protection to 70 years. This also applies to joint works created by multiple authors, where the term of protection is 70 years after the death of the last living contributor.
Protection is a little different for works made anonymously, under a pseudonym, or for-hire. In that case, protection lasts for either 95 years from the year the work was first published, or 120 years after its creation — whichever comes first. In general, however, when it comes to individual creators, 70 years after your death is the rule of thumb.
Like any other property you own, what normally happens is that ownership of your copyrights is transferred to the heirs of your estate. This will depend on local state law, but typically this will mean your spouse and/or children, or other family members if you are unmarried and do not have children. If you wish to specify that a particular person or entity receive ownership, you can use a will to name a beneficiary to whom you’d like to transfer ownership. In just one complicated example of why a will is important, legendary artist Prince died in 2016 without having one established — launching his heirs into a years-long legal battle over who owns his estate. Estate attorneys can help with drafting a will and ensuring it makes your wishes clear and unambiguous.
If the work has been licensed or transferred, however, your death does not mean that the agreement establishing that license or transfer has expired. Instead, the license holder or owner retains the specific rights granted to them for as long as the agreement lasts, or until the copyright term expires.
Use of the Work
Once ownership has been passed on, the new owner may generally use and license your works in whatever way they wish. If the rights to the works are co-owned, any profits made from the use of the work might need to be split amongst all of the rights holders, but usually permission will not need to be secured from the other co-owners if one of the rights holders wishes to use the work non-exclusively.
Additionally, you can use your will to specifically outline how you’d like your works to be used after you pass away. For example, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys included a provision in his will prohibiting his works from being used for advertising purposes. This is another area in which an estate lawyer would be helpful in the process of preparing your will.
What Can You Do?
Now that you have all this information about what will—or what could—happen to your work after your passing, what do you do next? The first step is to figure out what copyrighted works you own, along with any registrations you may have made. Next, of course, to determine what you’d like to happen to those works. Who do you trust to protect your legacy, and who do you want any profits of the work to go to? Have you transferred your work, or have you set up any licensing agreements? Was the work published anonymously? Make sure you have the answers to these questions in mind before proceeding.
You should also consider whether to register any work s that aren’t already registered with the Copyright Office. Registration has a number of benefits, such as providing a public record indicating who owns the rights to your work. It also enables you and your heirs or beneficiaries to sue for infringement, as well as potentially receive statutory damages and attorneys’ fees as part of a judgment.
It’s also important that you talk with the person (or people) who you intend to inherit your copyright. Making them aware, and making sure they’re on board, will help them be prepared for the responsibility of protecting your works after you’re gone. You can also communicate to them how, exactly, you would like for them to handle your works.
Finally, we suggest reaching out to an attorney for assistance. An estate attorney will be able to help you create a will that outlines your exact desires — eliminating any ambiguity as to how you want your legacy to be carried out after you die. In addition, an estate attorney can help you consider any tax implications for your estate and may be able to recommend strategies for minimizing tax burdens, such as a trust.
A copyright attorney can also help you establish what specific rights your heirs or beneficiaries are entitled to, depending on when the work was created, if it was registered, and whether or not you’ve ever licensed or transferred ownership of the work. Of course, we understand that legal fees can be steep — check out our Creator Assistance Directory for resources on how to find legal assistance near you.
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What Happens to Your Intellectual Property After You Die?
Every day someone is trying to protect their intellectual property rights. But what happens to these rights when you die? Do they simply cease to exist? Are they passed on? Can you leave your IP rights to a specific person? Well, the answers to these questions depend on two things. First, it depends on what type of intellectual property rights the deceased person had. Second, it depends upon whether the deceased IP owner specifically said who would receive the right.
Estate Crash Course
Before diving into the intellectual property rights, here is a crash course on what happens to people’s stuff after they die. Everyone has heard of a will – a signed document where a person enumerates who they want to receive their different properties (i.e. house, artwork, or fancy car). Giving property to someone through a will is called a bequest .
Sometimes the person drafting the will may give the property outright , meaning the beneficiary, the person listed in the will, obtains all rights to the property upon their death. Other times they may wish that their property is received under certain conditions. For example, they may wish to give their property to someone, once they reach a certain age. This is done through a trust . But what if someone dies without a will? This means a person died intestate . The answer is in a state statute, such as Illinois , which lists out which family members receive what portion of the property. These beneficiaries, called “the heirs at law,” are said to inherit the property.
Can IP Rights be Inherited?
Now that you know how property can be left to others, let’s consider how to leave specific types of intellectual property.
There are four main areas of intellectual property: copyright , trademark , patent , and right of publicity . Each one has its own set of rules. Below is an explanation of each type and if and how it can be conveyed.
First, you need to know what a copyright is. It protects “original works of authorship” (i.e. created, rather than copied from another) that are “fixed in a tangible form of expression,” (i.e. in a tangible form that can be perceived). This can include books, movies, choreography, song lyrics, and a plethora of other expressions.
What matters isn’t who owns the actual work, but who owns the copyright itself. For example, Michael Crichton , the author of Jurassic Park , owns the copyright of the book. But any individual can own a copy of the book itself without violating copyright law. That individual can bequest his copy of Jurassic Park to his daughter through a will, making the daughter the rightful owner of that copy of the book upon his death, but the daughter does not own the right to reproduce the work or turn it into a movie.
When a person, typically the author, rightfully owns a copyright of a work, that right is not extinguished upon death. Instead, that right exists for an additional 70 years past the life of the author. If the owner of a copyright has a will, he can bequest his copyright to whoever he wants. If he dies without a will, his heirs at law will inherit the copyright.
If the new owner, the beneficiary of the copyright dies within those 70 years, the new owner may bequeath the copyright in a will, or her heirs at law will receive it upon her death. After the copyright term expires, the work enters the public domain , meaning that the copyright owner no longer retains any rights to the work. At that point, the intellectual property right can no longer be passed down. Hence why so many theater companies use Shakespeare’s plays; his work is in the public domain. He has been dead since 1616 , so there are no copyright protections. This means you do not need to pay royalties, making performance cheaper.
A quirky aspect of copyright law is that copyright owners have a brief window in which they can terminate the license . Essentially, 35 years after the work is first published, there is a 5-year gap in which that license can be terminated. In the event of the copyright owner’s death, their heirs could also take advantage of this window. This only applies when the copyrighted work is authored by one or more individuals, as opposed to a so-called “work made for hire.” A work made for hire is owned by an entity such as an employer even if created by an individual.
The right to terminate the license protects the individual who may have inadequate bargaining power to negotiate a better rate, including the copyright author herself. This rule can also help heirs end agreements that bring in little or no profit. The Copyright Right Act specifically lists out who has these rights and the procedures. The widow or widower of a work by a single author receives the complete right to terminate unless the decedent left behind children. Then the widow/er has a one-half interest and the second half is divided between the decedent’s children and any surviving children of the author’s deceased children. Together, they must decide if the agreement should be terminated and then give notice to the owner of the license.
The same copyright authors who have the right to terminate licenses (but not the copyright owner) also have what is known as moral rights . These rights protect an author’s integrity and right of attribution , meaning the author has the right to claim authorship of his work and prevent others from modifying the integrity of his name. Moral rights also protect works against intentional distortion, mutilation, or other modification as I have previously explained . Unlike copyright protection, which extends after the owner’s death, moral rights end when the author dies. They cannot be passed on.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that is used to identify and distinguish the source of particular goods or services. Trademarks can be owned by an individual, but they must be used in commerce on a good or service. So typically, a company is the one who owns the trademark.
When an individual owns the mark and it is transferred to a beneficiary, the executor of the estate must file documents with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to record the transfer of the mark to the beneficiary so that the beneficiary can administer the registration of the mark.
A company can be passed down through a will or inherited through intestacy law. When you receive a company, you usually receive the company’s trademarks. The company will still retain its ownership of the trademark rights. However, the beneficiary is the person who controls the company, thus controlling the trademark and how it is used. Remember, as long as a mark is used in commerce and continues to identify and distinguish its source, it does not expire. So unlike copyrights and patents, trademarks can be passed down for a very long time.
Patents grant property rights to inventors if their invention meets a list of strict criteria . These rights allow the owner of the patent to prevent others from using their invention and from selling or importing the invention. Patent protection lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application. However, the protection only begins once the USPTO grants the patent.
Often times the inventor signs over their rights to the patent to a company, which can then carry out mass production of the said invention. When the inventor dies, he no longer owns the patent, so there is nothing to transfer.
However, if the inventor still owns the patent, he can transfer it through a will or trust. If the inventor did not have a will or trust, it will pass to heirs via intestacy law, like every other right. Similar to trademarks, the new owner must change the ownership listed with the USPTO. One odd thing about patent law to remember: if the inventor dies before a patent is applied for or during the application process, the estate can apply for the patent.
Right of Publicity
The right of publicity protects a person’s name, image, or likeness from unauthorized commercial use. This is most common with celebrities. It ensures that celebrities are compensated for the use of their name, image, or likeness in connection with a brand, such as Coca-Cola or Nike. But also prevents the association of their name or likeness with a company whose practices they may not agree with.
State law governs the right of publicity. Therefore, you must look to state law to determine who owns the right of publicity of a particular person after he/she dies. Illinois law states that this right is freely transferable and can be given by a will, trust, or intestate succession.
However, intestate succession only allows the right of publicity to be inherited by the decedent’s spouse, parents, children, or grandchildren, eliminating cousins, aunts, and uncles. In Illinois, this right only exists for 50 years after the death. In California , it exists for 70 years after the death.
Intellectual property rights can be passed down, but in order to ensure that the beneficiaries are who you want, you must draft a will and specifically list who will receive your intellectual property rights. If not, your beneficiaries are dictated by state law.
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Copyright After Death: Ensuring Your Legacy Lives On
Copyright After Death
Copyright after death – In general, copyright protection exists during the lifetime of the creator and for a certain period of time after their death. The duration of this posthumous protection may vary depending on the country and the type of work, but it typically lasts for several decades. During this time, the copyright is usually managed by the creator’s estate or by a designated representative. It is important to note that copyright laws differ between countries, and it is recommended to seek legal advice for specific cases.
Life, Death, and the Pursuit of Copyright
Copyright after death – Copyright is an intangible asset, but one that you can transfer upon death. It is typical that creators and authors spend a great amount of time putting in their blood, sweat, and tears into an art so it is entirely understandable that these creators would want to protect their copyright post-mortem. Generally, for works created on or after January 1, 1978, protection is automatically granted for the duration of the author’s life plus an additional 70 years. However, who owns your copyright once you are not around?
Identifying the Valid and Rightful Copyright Owner
Before determining who inherits a copyright after death, you must identify the valid and rightful copyright owner to the work. Perhaps your deceased relative was a creator of a work that he or she did for a third party.
Ownership of Copyright for Works Made for Hire and Independent Contractors
The copyright generally becomes the property of the author who created it; however, an exception to this principle is a work made for hire. If a work is made for hire, an employer is considered the author and would own the copyright. 17 U.S.C. § 101 . In contrast, independent contractors generally own their own work. Therefore, in advocating that your relative was the copyright owner to a work he created under the arrangement with a third party, you would argue that your relative was an independent contractor for the work which he or she was contracted to make.
In deciding whether or not an author was an employee or independent contractor, courts look to several factors, which include actual control over the details of the work, the skill required, work location, and whether employment benefits were given. Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 490 U.S. 730, 752 (1989). If it is determined that the work was made for hire, then the employer owns the copyright and this copyright exists 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter. This same timeline rule applies to works that are anonymous and pseudonymous unless the author’s identity is later revealed in Copyright records, in which case the term becomes the author’s life plus 70 years.
Copyright Ownership for Works with Two or More Authors
Sometimes there is confusion as to who owns the copyright when there are two or more authors with no devised contract. In this situation, courts would likely look to see if this was a joint authorship in which two or more authors materially contribute to a work with the intention that their separate contributions be merged into a single work. In such an event, the joint authors would join the work jointly and equally, with each author having the right to exercise any or all non-exclusive rights inherent in the joint work. Additionally, each joint author must account to the other joint authors for any profits received from licensing the joint work. For a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death.
Passing on Copyrights Through A Will
Once you have figured out who owns the copyright to the work, you can determine what happens to the copyright after death of the copyright owner. Copyright is treated no differently than other property so a copyright can be passed to an heir or to a third party through a will. Estate attorneys can aid with drafting a will and ensuring your wishes are clear and unambiguous with respect to your copyrights. However, if one does not have a will upon death, your state’s laws of intestacy govern. This typically means that your spouse and/or children, or other family members if you are unmarried and do not have children will inherit your property, and therefore, your copyright. In California in particular, it depends on your familial situation or lack thereof. For example, if you have a spouse, your half of any community property will be given to your spouse. If you have children but no spouse, your children will inherit everything. If you have a spouse and one child, your spouse will inherit all of your community property and half of your separate property.
What Happens After 70 years?
Upon the death of a copyright owner, the clock generally begins to run on the seventy-year copyright term. While the copyright term is still active, the person who inherits or is bequeathed the copyright becomes the new copyright owner, who will now reap the benefits of valid licensing or other agreements in place over the work. Once the seventy-year term expires, the work will enter the public domain, meaning others may use the work for commercial purposes without having to request any type of authorization or license.
Considerations for Estate Planning with Copyrights
If you have a copyright, remember that as intellectual property, it should be considered in your estate plan. If you do not have an estate plan that describes what will happen to your intellectual property, it may become part of your residual estate. Consequently, this may result in your intellectual property being inherited by a person you did not intend to inherit the property.
If you have any questions regarding copyright after death or any other issues related to copyrights your heirs or beneficiaries are entitled to, depending on when the work was created, if it was registered, and whether you have licensed or transferred the ownership of the work, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are your Orange County trademarks, copyright, and business litigation attorneys, here to help.
If you need legal assistance, reach out to the founder of Cartee, LC, business, trademark and intellectual property attorney, Anthony Cartee , at (714) 942-2225 , or via email [email protected] , or schedule an appointment .
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What happens to a copyright when the owner dies?
What happens to a copyright when the owner dies? The answer to this question lies with the owner and their estate planning.
A copyright is an intangible asset . Copyright exists in a work from the moment of creation. Generally, the copyright term of a work extends from the date of creation until 70 years after the death of the creator. The creator (or creators) of a work is typically the copyright owner . The copyright term is a one time term. With each sale or transfer of ownership, the copyright term is not restarted or extended.
Copyright confers a set of legal rights to its owner. The copyright owner can sell, transfer or license these rights. The sale, license or transfer of the copyrights become a source of income for the copyright owner.
The impact of estate laws.
Every jurisdiction within the United States, as well as every country, have their own estate laws . These laws, set forth the manner in which a person may lay out directives about their personal affairs and assets.
So, what happens to a copyright after the owner dies? As an intangible asset, the copyright forms part of the owner’s estate. In other words, copyright can be inherited or bequeathed. Who and how may inherit or be bequeathed the copyright is subject to the laws in the relevant jurisdiction.
Once inherited, what’s next?
Upon the death of the copyright owner, the clock begins to run on the seventy year copyright term. This clock cannot be turned back, paused, postponed, restarted or renewed. Once the seventy year term expires, the work will enter the public domain. When a work enters the public domain, others may use the work for commercial purposes without having to request any type of authorization or licence.
While the copyright term is active, the person who inherits or is bequeathed the copyright becomes the new copyright owner. This entitles them to the copyrights over the work. As such, the new owner may reap the benefits of valid licensing or other agreements in place over the work. As well as enter into new agreements.
For works registered in the United States Copyright Office or in another country, it is a good practice to notify and record the change of ownership.
Author: Patricia Ramírez Gelpí, J.D., LL.M.
Image: Burdun Iliya /Shutterstock.com
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Copyright uncovered: What will happen to my rights when I die?
Rights continue to exist in your work, even after you’re gone
Be sure to make a will – and include your rights, writing your will, moral rights, how dacs can help you and your beneficiaries.
Read previous ‘Copyright uncovered’ articles Use our Copyright Advice Service Knowledge Base Useful Links Art Talks: Dr Loretta Würtenberger and Melanie Gerlis
Posted on 25/09/2017 by Laura Ward-Ure
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What happens to your copyright after you die?
- Titulaires de droits / Copyright for creators
- Copyright explained
What is spoken can be forgotten, but what is written remains. Authors are not immortal but their copyrights can survive them, for a certain time at least.
What happens to the copyright on an author’s content after that person has passed away?
Copyright continues after the author’s lifetime
In Canada, content is protected by copyright during the author’s entire lifetime and then until the end of the 70 th year following the author’s death.
That means users have to request permission to use or perform works even after the author has died.
Who manages the copyright and receives the royalties paid? The author’s heirs. If the heirs die within the 70-year timeframe after the author’s death, their share of the copyright will then be bequeathed to their own heirs.
- Read : Copyright protection extended in Canada
How to hand down your copyright
Copyright is also a property right. It can therefore be included in your will.
After consulting a notary or lawyer, you can include a copyright clause in your will to specify how your patrimonial rights will be conveyed.
If there is no specific copyright clause in a Quebec resident’s will, the copyright will be included in the movable property or residuary bequest categories usually found in a will.
It should be noted that moral rights cannot be passed on to heirs. Of course, the heirs cannot claim authorship of a work.
Moral rights therefore cannot be bequeathed. However, authors can waive their moral rights but must have done so in writing before their death.
If there is no a will
In Quebec, if someone dies without a will, the rules governing the person’s civil union or matrimonial regime will apply.
If there is no spouse, the rights will be distributed according to the rules set out in the Quebec Civil Code.
For more information about how an estate is divided up if the person dies without leaving a will, please refer to this guide from Éducaloi .
What does the executor (liquidator) have to do?
As long as the estate (succession) remains open, Copibec will issue cheques in the estate’s name.
Once the estate has been settled, the executor/liquidator must contact all the organizations managing the deceased’s copyrights, including the publisher, the Public Lending Right Program (PLR) and Copibec.
After that, all requests for permission and all royalties will be forwarded to the heirs.
Executors/liquidators dealing with Copibec will be asked to provide the following information and copies:
- Death certificate (act of death)
- Will search confirmation
- Heirs’ social insurance numbers and contact information
If the person died without a will, the death certificate/act of death and the will search confirmation will be needed.
The heirs will have to certify in writing that they’re the only legatees under the Quebec Civil Code.
To send documentation or for any questions
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How can I pass my intellectual property to my heirs?
Frame & frame attorneys at law, aug 05, 2022, legal + transactions | business services | insurance + planning.
By Tara Frame
When you think of estate planning, what usually comes to mind is the process of transferring your assets and wealth to your family, along with consideration of any tax benefits. A properly drafted and comprehensive estate plan not only transfers the most common types of assets, such as real property, financial accounts, cash and personal property, it also encompasses the transfer and passing of any intellectual property that you may own or to which you have rights.
There are generally three subcategories of intellectual property: patents, copyrights and trademarks. If you hold one of these types of intellectual property, you have the exclusive control of it and the right to prohibit others from using it. If you are an inventor, musician, songwriter, author, artist or any other type of creative, you may have a patent, copyright, or trademark that you want to pass on to your family upon your death. Like any other asset, intellectual property is in fact something that can be passed on as part of your estate plan. After all your hard work, creativity, blood, sweat, and tears, you may not want your rights to your intellectual property to be lost when you pass. In order to protect your rights and your family’s continuing rights to your intellectual property, it is imperative that you plan ahead. There are strategies to ensure that you and your family retain the rights to these special assets.
Patents A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. According to the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO), you can sell or assign a patent and transfer ownership to another by executing an assignment agreement. This will transfer your rights to the patent to another party, but once a transferred, you lose all rights and interests in the patent. If you have not planned ahead and you have a patent that is solely in your name, then, most likely, your patent would have to go through the probate process to transfer the patent to your heirs.
All of the obligations associated with probate would fall on your Personal Representative to then deal with the Patent Office. If you create a revocable trust prior to your death, then your successor trustee could conduct business on your behalf without the interference of the probate court. Patents must be properly assigned and recorded to your trust prior to death in order to ensure continuing control and management. An assignment to a trust merely changes the legal ownership of the patent after your death, but all else stays the same. By being proactive, your beneficiaries or heirs would be entitled to receive future income from your patents for as long as the patent is valid and in place.
Copyrights A copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. Per USPTO, all copyright-eligible works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for 70 years after the death of their author. Copyrights can also be passed on to your heirs upon your death as part of your estate plan. A copyright does not die with the owner but rather passes through the owner’s estate. Your beneficiaries or heirs would be entitled to receive all future profits from the copyright. Additionally, if you have a will or trust, you can specifically outline how your works should be used after you pass away. For example, musician Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys did not want his songs to be used for advertising purposes after his death. He included a provision in his will that specified this restriction on future use of his work.
When dealing with copyrights in your estate plan, it is important to consider a variety of things, including what copyrighted works you own, what registrations you have filed, what you want to happen to those copyrights after you’re gone, who do you trust to protect your legacy, and who you want to receive any future profits.
Trademarks A trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, design, logo, or a combination of these, that distinguish or identify a particular business from another. It is often how a customer recognizes you in the marketplace. A few examples are the distinct and identifiable logos of Nike, Apple and Amazon. When dealing with a trademark, you should consider how your trademark will pass upon your death. It is not always simple. In order to transfer a registered trademark through your estate, your Personal Representative would need to take specific steps, including assigning the trademark, along with the goodwill that is associated with it. If this is not done properly, then the trademark may not transfer to the beneficiaries and may expire.
It is usually better to have a business entity own a trademark, rather than a person. If a business owns a registered trademark, the business will continue to own it after the owner’s death. The business would need to continue to pay any and all fees associated with renewing the trademark as necessary to maintain ownership.
With certain types of intellectual property rights, it is important to take the necessary steps associated with the ownership, such as renewing registrations and paying periodic maintenance fees for patents or trademarks. Otherwise, the important and potentially valuable rights to the intellectual property may be lost, temporarily or permanently.
Anyone who creates new and innovative intellectual property should consider the impact that disability or death can have on their creations. I95 Content Marketing
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