According to Tom Hubler, intellectual property disputes often have the same root as many other family business conflicts: an unwillingness to formalize family business arrangements. While sharing the story of an uncle and nephew unable to negotiate an intellectual property disagreement, Hubler recounts:
Despite the help of their professional advisor and their own best efforts, Joe and Bruce were deadlocked. No formal agreements existed between them. Unfortunately, this is not unusual in many family businesses. As I’ve previously noted, written agreements and formal structure are commonly ignored by relatives who are in business together. In fact, formalities such as this may be viewed with mistrust. Merely bringing them up can trigger hurt feelings. (Tom Hubler, The Soul of the Family Business)
Intellectual Property as a Legacy Building Tool
Intellectual property often involves the true heart of a successful business or business person. It can protect a competitive advantage, showcase ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, and cement a creator’s legacy. It’s only natural that such an important topic can cause division and stress amongst families, but it doesn’t need to be this way. For help creating thorough and comprehensive succession plans that include intellectual property, pick up The Soul of the Family Business by Tom Hubler. Through personal anecdotes, real-world case studies, useful tools and frameworks, and more, Hubler offers an in-depth look at how the most successful business families prepare for handling even the stickiest ownership disputes. You can pick up The Soul of the Family Business, available in hardcover form on Amazon.com, directly through Itasca Books, or at a bookstore near you. And of course, if you’re ready to take the next steps, you can always contact Hubler for Business Families today.