Simpsonville, SC asked in Divorce, Family Law and Patents (Intellectual Property) for South Carolina

Q: Hello, If I'm wanting to file for a patent how can I protect it in case I have a divorce?

I'm in a marriage that is going to well but I have an idea for a patent and plan to file for a provisional patent in the next few days. Should I just get a friend of mine to take ownership until I'm sure I can own the patent safely.

1 Lawyer Answer
Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ

A: This is an interesting question, that has more to do with family law than patent law. But here are a few points:

Once a patent issues, then the patent is considered a personal property, just like a bank account, a car, or an art collection. Whenever there is a divorce, the property is evaluated and is split between the parties, just like anything else. You'd probably get to keep the patent, but you'd have to offset it somewhere else.

Trying to hide an asset by having your friend take ownership, would be somewhat similar to trying to hide assets from the spouse (and the spouse's lawyer) during divorce proceedings. I don't know South Carolina laws, but I'd have a hard time thinking that this would go over very well for you. You really see a SC family law attorney.

And of course, from a practical point of view, there would not be much that you could do against your friend, if you give your patent to him, and he later sees that it is worth a lot of money and decides to just keep it. If he decides to screw you over and keep the patent, are you going to go to court and say "I conveyed the patent to my friend because I was trying to cheat my wife in the divorce court"? That ranks along the lines of calling the cops on your drug dealer because he stiffed you.

Good luck!

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