Intellectual property is an umbrella term that includes several different specific areas of the law. Trademark law, patent law, copyright laws and trade secret laws are all examples of intellectual property laws. The constitution guarantees that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over patent and copyright laws. Patent and copyright laws are designed to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.”
COPYRIGHTS, OWNERSHIP, HEIRS AND ESTATE PLANNING
Copyrights created after 1978 are generally good for the life of the author plus 70 years. When written for a corporation, so called work for hire copyrights, the copyright is valid for 95 after first publication date to 120 years after the work is created. To pass a copyright on to heirs, you must be careful to do it the right way. If a painter passes a painting on to an heir the right to control the copyright of that painting does not necessarily follow. The painter will have only passed on the original painting. To pass a copyright, the trust, will or other document must specifically mention that the copyright to the painting passes to the heir. It is entirely possible for a painter to pass the original work to a friend or partner but pass the copyright on to another person.