You want to sell your business, but you have some intellectual property that you’d like to keep. For instance, maybe you developed the brand and associated marks — logos, slogans, colors, etc. You also developed your own processes and customer base. You want to sell the company, allowing the new owner to use the same process to make products for the same customer base, but you’d like to keep your IP for use at a new business. Can you?
You may be able to do so, but make sure the contract is written out specifically to say what you are selling and what you intend to keep. Remember that you may also be able to lease that IP to the new owner without giving up the ability to use it yourself.
The second question to ask, though, is if it’s really wise to do this. After all, that IP has tremendous value. You may get a far higher price if you sell everything, rather than trying to retain some. If you have sales goals or simply want to make as much as possible, it may be in your best interest to sell every part of the company, including the intellectual property, along with the physical assets.
After all, will the buyer even want your company without the brand? They may be buying because they don’t want to do their own branding and they want that instant name recognition. If you won’t sell the IP, they won’t get it, so they may decide that they’d be better off to start a new company. They still won’t have name recognition, but the start-up costs may be far lower than buying an existing company.
What you choose to do depends on your goal and the negotiations with the other business professional. No matter what you decide, the key is to know exactly what legal options you have and exactly how those contracts should be written. Do not let a simple mistake cost you.