Mishawaka, IN asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for Indiana

Q: According the granted patent from January 13 2015 did is any money were coming on the name of my late husband Robert.

I'm Nada Miele his wife. Please let me know if is anything that I need to do.

2 Lawyer Answers
Robyn T. Williams
Robyn T. Williams
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Wilmington, DE

A: Hi Nada,

The answer to this question relies on many different factors. If your late husband licensed the patent and is receiving royalty payments you may be entitled to those royalty payments. In order to fully assess your situation I would suggest setting up a phone call to discuss.

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

A: My condolences to you, Mrs. Miele, on the passing of your husband. Your question is a very common one.

The patent that your husband is listed as an inventor (US 8,932,825), was assigned by your husband to Glycofi Inc. of Lebanon, NH. Glycofi was the owner of the patent, and after the company was sold to Merck, the patent belongs to them.

The good news is that Merck considers the patent valuable -- they've paid the maintenance fee on it in July 2018.

The bad news is that if your husband was an employee of Glycofi, then he was likely hired to come up with new technological advances. In exchange for coming up with new technology, he was paid a salary. Just like an architect is paid to design new buildings, or a factory worker is paid to assemble cars, the workers are not paid after the building or the car is sold. Unless he and Glycofi made some sort of an arrangement where instead of taking salary he would paid from the future cashflow (an arrangement that is possible but typically very rare), Glycofi likely never had to pay him anything except his salary. Do you know if he had some sort of an equity arrangement with Glycofi?

The other bad news is that he passed away about 13 years ago. If there was some sort of a contractual obligation to him from Glycofi and subsequently Merck, and neither you nor Elizabeth, Anastasia, or Kathy ever collected the royalties from Glycofi or Merck, then it is likely too late now. There likely is a statute of limitations for breach of a contract.

But, as always, you may want to talk to a well-qualified attorney about your case.

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