Who owns this product?


What steps should I take to protect myself (and the company) as the sole developer of the product?

My business partner will be handling the business side of things.

It was his idea, originally, we have been collaborating on the idea and system as a whole for 2 months I'd say.

I'm through about 5-10% of the way through the initial development of the system.

As far as I know, the idea isnt patentable and it isnt a 'registered' business yet (meaning he or I havent registered it yet)

At this point, if we were to hypothetically part ways ... who owns what?

Can I just work on the technical side myself and create the business on my own?

// We haven't signed ANY legal documents at all, including not signing a NDA

Founders Agreements

asked Oct 11 '11 at 02:53
11 points
  • 5-10% isn't a product. It's half the sound a "p" makes... – Jberger 12 years ago

2 Answers


Legally, at the moment you have very little protection, but also very little restriction. If you are the sole developer and you do not have an intellectual property agreement in place, the copyright defaults to the author. However, morally if you have been collaborating you should come to some sort of equitable arrangement that recognizes the individual contributions.

I would strongly advise that you sit down and decide this and other equity related issues rather than waiting until later. It is important to define both the distribution and contribution expectations of everyone involved very early on so that there are not misunderstandings later.

At the very least, you need an IP assignment agreement that covers the work that is being done. You can also add a clause to that agreement that defines what happens if the company is dissolved.

answered Oct 11 '11 at 03:26
431 points


hmm, morally you're not obligated to anything if the two of you have no agreement of any sort other than sharing a vision. If you wrote the 15% of the code, and you part ways you both keep the idea to do whatever with and you keep what you already put in. Technically you retain the copyright since you wrote it.

However, having said that, it is an excellent question you can bring up the next time the two of you meet for coffee :)

answered Oct 11 '11 at 05:35
51 points

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Founders Agreements