Q: Disposition of valuable patents following death of inventor no probate filed-how to proceed-discover commercial uses?

Need advice re Highly valuable international energy saving patents authored by recently deceased inventor and assigned to small Pa. company in which I hold shares and from which I am owed $.

No will or probate action I can find. Death in early 2020. Processes now being used by Morton Salt-likely without royalty, using foreign born scientist who helped write patents and is also owed $.

Fear family is proceeding to commercialize without informing shareholders.

1 Lawyer Answer
Michael Cherewka
Michael Cherewka
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Wormleysburg, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: There are a lot of unknown facts in your question/scenario which require review of existing documents ( the Company documents -Bylaws or Operating Agreement / Buy-sell / your loans to Company) (the Assignment of patent rights) and possibly some research regarding registration of the patents and the Estate (or if decedent had a Trust). It is unclear from your description how the Company ownership is structured but there may be opportunity for you to request that an Estate be opened if the family refuses to do so. If you fear family is not protecting Company interests, or that third parties may be using the patents royalty free you will need to meet with an attorney quickly to determine what is actually going on and how you can protect your interests as an owner of the Company and a creditor of the Company.

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