What is intellectual property?  Generally speaking, intellectual property refers to ownership rights with respect to creative works.  Whether you’re talking about an author’s copyright to her books or an inventor’s patent on a better mousetrap, intellectual property rights are everywhere and can be very valuable.

Some Maven customers and other Maven users have asked how the Maven user agreement addresses intellectual property.  Simply stated, Maven respects all intellectual property rights.  Maven’s user agreement doesn’t transfer users’ intellectual property rights, and one does not give up any intellectual property rights by joining Maven.

That doesn’t mean that intellectual property issues don’t come up occasionally.  Maven facilitates collaboration – and collaboration can result in intellectual property.  For example, two Maven users may connect and write a song together.  How do they share the intellectual property rights?  That is a good question – but the answer is, that for those users to decide.  Maven only makes the connection.  The intellectual property results from that connection belong to the users, as creators, and whatever deal they make between themselves is their prerogative.

Certain Maven customers have special intellectual property needs.  For example, say a Maven customer wishes to consult with you concerning a better mousetrap they are developing.  If you were invited to participate in that consultation, the Maven customer might ask you to sign an invention agreement to ensure they have the necessary intellectual property rights to manufacture that mousetrap.  That makes good legal sense, and good business sense – without those rights, the consultation would be of limited use to the customer.

Or take a different situation: an aspiring author might want to consult with an editor regarding a manuscript.  If the editor later decides to publish the work, the author and the editor would negotiate a publication agreement separate from Maven.  That also makes sense.

As always, the decision of whether to enter into such an agreement and participate in such a consultation is yours and yours alone.  You should read and understand the agreement and consult your legal advisor if you wish.

Every Maven user and every Maven consultation is unique.  Intellectual property issues may occasionally need to be transferred among users – but the Maven user agreement does not do it.  When it comes to intellectual property, one size does not fit all.