Greenwood, MS asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for Mississippi

Q: I invented a process for a company , including separate equipment. Then had me write up the patent and do the drawings

then let me go from the company, changed lawyers and claim themselves as inventor. Can I stop them?

2 Lawyer Answers
Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ

A: I am so sorry that this happened to you. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common occurrence.

The good news is that the company CANNOT take off your name from the patent if you indeed were an inventor on at least one claim. Your name will need to be on the patent, even if they do not want you associated with the patent. If they keep your name off the patent as one of the inventors, then their patent can be held invalid because it does not list the correct inventors. This is good news because you will be able to list it on your resume.

The bad news for you is that the invention that you came up with and any patents resulting from your work very likely belongs to the company. There is very little that you can do to stop them. Unless you had some sort of paperwork from the company to show that your inventions belong to you instead of the company, there is not much you can do. Sorry. :(

Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: This is a fact specific inquiry that does not lend itself to comments to questions on a web site. You need to discuss this in detail with a patent attorney. It is very possible that you should be listed as an inventor. It really depends on what is in the claims and whether your actions were more carrying out the actions requested by others (bricklayer) or you provided solutions to a broad request for a new process (more of the architect) . Without looking at the claims and knowing what you contributed, ii is hard to answer this definitively. If you should be an inventor listed on the patent, , this can probably be corrected by having your patent attorney contact the company. The company may now have a bloated list of inventors and may reluctantly add you as the last inventor on the list. There is not a a process to have a main inventor fight to be listed first if the company chooses some other order.

As noted, if you invented this process and equipment as part of your job duties as a regular employee for the company, then the normal course of events is that the company is going to be the owner of the invention and they will ask you to sign the necessary papers to make their ownership indicated in the records. There are ways to bypass your signature if you really should sign but won't sign as you are unhappy with them.

Note -- you may need to tread carefully with respect to non-public information about anything you invented for the company as that information may be a proprietary trade secrete until the information is published in a patent application or issued in a patent. So while talking to an attorney to sort out your rights may be appropriate, I would not post details of the process you invented in social media or to anyone else until you have received guidance from your attorney.

I hope this helps.

Kevin E Flynn

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