Colorable/Colourable Argument/Claim

A legal argument or assertion of fact that is not baseless or without substance; that has at least a slim chance of success or being proven – it not certain to fail. Usually used to refer to a legal argument that is not so weak that it is an abuse of process  to introduce it, i.e., “at least colourable.” An argument that, even if it is weak, can be made in good faith, or a factual assertion where there is at least some supporting evidence or some reason to believe that supporting evidence exists and can be found. An extremely weak legal argument or factual assertion is sometimes referred to as “barely meeting the smile/laugh test.” See Rule 11.

In intellectual property due diligence, the records of title of a business’ IP assets should be carefully considered to determine if any their-party might have colourable claim to own the intellectual property. Typically this focusses on finding clear assignments or licenses, and studying employment, consulting and contractor relationships, to determine how the business owns the intellectual property or has rights to use it, often focussing on employment and consulting agreements and shop right. An inability to properly demonstrate clear ownership, or a colourable claim from a third party can be seen as a cloud on title, which can be expensive to remove. For this reason it is always wise to address ownership issues early.

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