Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Is It Normal for an Advisor Agreement to Assign All IP Rights to the Company?

Short answer: Many advisor agreements assign all IP to the company, but a standard agreement is just a jumping-off point. A lawyer can often get you a more favorable deal. 

Longer answer: 

This is a very common practice. In fact, it’s not only advisors who get this treatment: Even founders often assign all intellectual property rights to the company. The reasons for this are straightforward: If investors know that the founders can’t take the IP and use it elsewhere, they’re much more likely to have enough faith in the company to invest in it. 

Still, as others have noted, it’s often a smart move for an advisor to attempt to renegotiate these clauses in one way or another. For those who are inexperienced in renegotiating contracts or just not conversant in IP law, it’s probably not advisable to undertake this effort alone. The risks are simply too great when your money, time, and brainpower are all at stake.

If you’re looking to get the most favorable deal possible, it’s best to find a partner who knows how to navigate these waters. A good attorney may be able to help you reframe the relevant clauses in an advisor agreement so that you’ll get everything that’s coming to you. Find a lawyer who has worked on advisor agreements, go over your situation with them, and settle on a course of action. 

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