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Intellectual property

Los Angeles, CA |

I am an equal partnership of a business with my ex Husband. The company was formed while we were married. The company's relevance is solely based on my concept and idea. the company could exist without it. He funded it only. Can he continue the business without me and take my idea and concept without my consent?

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Attorney answers 5


Maybe. A lot will depend on the actual partnership agreement, to the extent that one exists, as well as your property distribution agreement from the divorce.

Generally, "concepts" are not entitled to any protection at all. Inventions can be protected by patents, and if you applied for one (no mention in your question), the ownership of the patent will be very important in determining who can practice the invention going forward. Brands can be protected by trademark (again no mention), and expressions of authorship can be protected by copyright. Neither trademark or copyright appear relevant to your question, but you may want to consider raising them to your attorney.

Good luck!

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I think my colleague offered an apt response.

You cannot protect a business idea. If this were possible, we would have only a dozen or so providers for all the goods and services in the universe.

The name, however, can be protected as a trademark and some content and creative works can be protected under copyright law. I would think you would know if you had any patentable inventions at this point, but if there is any question you should consult with a patent lawyer about that.

I think you should discuss with a lawyer in private in any case as the specific facts and circumstances need to be fleshed out in more detail. Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.

Best regards,
Natoli-Lapin, LLC
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The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. 866-871-8655 DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.


I doubt that your business is a (general) partnership. If an LLC or a corporation, your rights are defined by your bylaws or Operating Agreement. If the "partnership" was an asset of the dissolution of marriage, the judge should have dealt with it and may still be able to intervene. Many, many more facts would be needed for analysis. By the way, concept and funding are not "major" and "minor" contributions, respectively. Without funding many great ideas never go into production.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


It appears that your business has been in business over a year, there may not an opportunity to apply for patent protection for any business method. Consult with an business method patent attorney with all the details of your business method concept.

This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an attorney. I work for Cardinal Risk Mangement and Cardinal Intellectual Property, IP service companies, but not law firms. I also am the president of Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., which is a non profit educational foundation. I also write cultural and scientific compliations for the foundation. I also teach at Northwestern university as a guest lecturer. I also provide some pro-bono guidance on immigration and other issues through Indian American Bar Association. I also have a contract with Cardinal Law Group, a law firm, for IP projects. All this information is on my profile at Avvo and also at Linkedin. Any views/opinions expressed in any context are my personal views in individual capacity only, and do not represent the views and opinions of any firm, client, or anyone else, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way.


What a one-sided statement of facts! The company's relevance is likely due to the fact that the company had funding. Good concepts die without funding. Bad concepts can sell like hotcakes with the right funding and advertising. You likely know of may bad concepts that sold well for a short time [bell bottom pants?]. It's not "my idea and concept" unless you took proper steps to secure intellectual property rights, which you do not even mention. So, likely he can continue without you. However, you might check with an IP attorney to see if there is anything you can salvage from this. I am not optimistic for you.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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