Understanding Intellectual Property: Commercial Construction & Development

As Important an Asset as Your Real Property Investments

© 2021 Cami Boyd

For commercial developers, builders, and architectural firms, Intellectual Property issues are just as important as the real property development projects to which they pertain. Therefore, Intellectual Property issues and ownership rights should be considered a priority issue in contracts for commercial real estate development. As innovative technologies and new “green technologies” become an increasingly important factor in commercial construction and development, the parties engaged in development and corresponding transactions must be cognizant of, savvy to, and proactive with regard to their intellectual property matters and interests. Understanding intellectual property law is crucial, which is why we’ve broken it down for you.

Intellectual Property in Real Estate

While AIA standard contracts typically vest ownership of intellectual property rights in architectural designs and building plans with the architectural firm, savvy developers know that these contract provisions are indeed negotiable and should be addressed in any commercial development contract. Similarly, modular and other builders should be sure to address protecting their technology and intellectual property when entering into supply contracts with commercial developers. Understanding intellectual property in general is only the beginning though; developers and project owners should pay particular attention to the ownership of their “trade dress,” specifically the “look, feel and design” of their buildings and developments. This issue is particularly relevant to the development of restaurant facilities, many recognizable by consumers as the result of “look, design and feel” of the restaurant facility.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

These Intellectual Property issues are frequently overlooked or downgraded to lower priority matters in the context of contract negotiations and drafting of commercial development agreements. Ignoring the intangible assets of your business means leaving money on the table. Lenders increasingly require security interests in Intellectual Property in addition to tangible assets and real property. Do not make the mistake of failing to capitalize on your intellectual property. 

Contact us to find out how Musgrove Law Firm can help you in understanding intellectual property law in commercial real estate.