Who will own your trademark when you sell your business?

Who will own your trademark when you sell your business?

When the time comes to sell your business, who will own your trademark? It depends who currently owns your trademark. Do you have it registered? If you do, whose name is it registered in? Is it in your personal name or Is it in the company’s name? If you’re selling shares in the company and the company owns the trademark, ownership will remain with the company. When you sell, the company will retain the trademark even though you’re no longer a shareholder. 

If the trademark is owned by the company, but you want to keep the trademark, you can make that as part of the deal. But you need to make it very clear as to who’s going to own the trademark. There was a case a while back where Volkswagen purchased Rolls-Royce. They bought the factory and the rights, but the main goal and reason why they paid billions of dollars, was to get the Rolls-Royce brand. 

Unfortunately, the paperwork said that they were buying the factory and the rights to reproduce Rolls-Royce cars, but not the actual brand name or trademark. The lawyers for Volkswagen made a massive mistake and Rolls-Royce said that was never their intention to sell them the name and then later sold it to another company. So It depends what’s in the contract which is why you need to make sure your contract’s clear. 

In that Volkswagen case, they went to court because it was a massive amount of money and Volkswagen said, “If we’d known that the brand wasn’t gonna be ours at the end of this, we would never have bought the factory. We didn’t care about the factory, we just wanted the brand.” But the judge said, “Tough luck, you should have put it in the contract.” When you sell your business, who owns the trademark at the end of the day depends on what you put in your contract. 

If your company owns the trademark and you’re selling all of your shares in the company, which means you no longer have an interest in the company, you’re no longer gonna have an interest in the trademark. Because it’s the company that owns the trademark, not you personally. My name is Cathryn Warburton and I am the legal lioness.

Cathryn Warburton About the author

The Legal Lioness. Overcoming severe bullying as a child instilled in her a passion to protect others. As a skilled litigator, she indulges in her dream to push-back against business-bullies who target her clients. She is an international award-winning lawyer and patent attorney and 5-time published author. Cathryn bullet-proofs her client’s businesses and protects them like a mama lioness protecting her cubs. She makes sure that no business is left without access to affordable, easy-to-understand legal information. She does this through her books, proactive legal workshops and 1-2-1 legal services.