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Intellectual Property Interest Upon Divorce

Throughout much of recorded history, the most valuable type of asset has been the right to hold and use land. Land does not become obsolete, is difficult to steal, and is almost always capable of producing value. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there occurred a substantial increase in the value of businesses organized activities which sometimes owned land, but whose real value lay in buildings, factories, and the skills of people.

In the past half-century, however, there has been a great increase in the value of an important intangible commodity: ideas. In an industrialized world, the right to use and control information can carry value equivalent to or greater than the value of tangible assets. Inventors of ideas, especially in the computer area, receive great public esteem. The rights to reproduce ideas or information in various forms books, tapes, movies, CDs sometimes sell for literally millions of dollars. In the twenty-first century, the most valuable assets we own are often intangible.

The growing value of ideas has had consequences all across the law. In the field of equitable distribution, the courts are starting to get comfortable with the process of identifying, classifying, and valuing various types of intellectual property. This article will provide a brief overview of the developing case law.

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