For residential and commercial developers, builders, designers, and architectural firms, intellectual property issues are just as important as the real property development projects to which they pertain. Intellectual property issues and ownership rights have long been a priority issue in contracts for residential or commercial real estate design and development. In today’s world, advances in innovative designs and “green technologies,” as well as the development and promotion of projects as “green construction,” make it critically important that parties be cognizant of, savvy to, and proactive in regard to their intellectual property matters and interests. 

Intellectual Property Issues in Green Real Estate Development

AIA standard contracts typically vest ownership of intellectual property rights in architectural designs and building plans with the architectural firm. But, savvy developers know that these contract provisions can be negotiable and must be addressed in any design and development contract. Green residential construction continues to expand and represents a rapidly increasing percentage of new home construction. Every new green real estate development touts its brand of energy-efficient, new and innovative green home designs. Your “green” brand is thus critically important, but it goes hand in glove with your innovative designs, so be sure you have a handle on who owns those! When hiring outside designers, engineers, and architects, it is vital to include language about ownership of your designs in your contract. If you do not, you may be surprised to find out that you do not own what you think you do.

Protect Your IP

What have you done to protect your Intellectual Property? Ask yourself the following questions. If you have never thought of this question or do not know the answer, you may have an issue that you need to address immediately.

  • Are you sure that you own your innovative technology?
  • Do all of your contracts ensure that you are the sole owner of your IP?
  • Have you ensured that the architectural, design, and engineering firms understand that their work product and resulting designs, blueprints, and schematics belong to you?
  • Have you overlooked protecting your brand through trademark registration?
  • Are there other types of formal IP that you should be considering (copyright/patent)?
  • Do your homes or buildings have a unique look? If so, have you protected your exclusive rights to that look?

Get Ahead of Competition

Ignoring the intangible assets of your green business may mean leaving significant money on the table. IP assets that have proper protection can give your business a competitive edge over your competition. Further, green IP can monetize through licensing arrangements to third parties separate from your initial development projects. So, don’t make the mistake of failing to protect your valuable intellectual property and learn how to put that IP to work to generate revenue.

Contact us to find out how we can help you and your business.