Prince’s death will lead to intellectual property matters

Glenn W. Peterson

Several weeks have passed since Prince died and ignited a media frenzy with his untimely passing. Beyond the fact that he was a beloved musician and popular culture figure, his passing has led to much conversation because of his lack of estate planning.

Initially, reports indicated that Prince didn’t have an estate plan — which seems unbelievable considering the star’s wealth. And it is not only unbelievable because of his financial wealth, but because of the wealth of intellectual property that the Purple Rain star leaves behind.

Prince worked hard for decades creating his music, his image and his brand overall. His actions in the past of fighting back against what he saw as his slavery to the corporate ownership of his music suggest that he would have been the type of person who would have used his death, through estate planning, to protect his creative property.

What sort of intellectual property matters might come up following Prince’s death?

-Who owns the rights to Prince’s image and likeness?

-Who owns the rights and, therefore, value of the name “Prince?”

-Who owns the supposed thousands of unpublished songs Prince left behind?

Most of us are nowhere near as famous as Prince was and probably won’t have hundreds of millions of dollars as well as timeless music to leave behind. However, this celebrity case is a reminder that intellectual property should be planned for. Business owners can plan for their trademarks they’ve created. Someone who has copyrighted their creative works can plan for that, too.

Intellectual property has value, value that is worth legally protecting while alive and when you are gone. An intellectual property lawyer can explain to you your options and how you can protect your hard work.