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Am I over reacting guys?

  1. Jan 29, 2010 #1
    Am I over reacting guys??????

    At my previous company i designed a cool new mechancial product. I applied for a patent for this item, and left the company just under a year later.

    I rang my ex box a year ago to find out about the progress of the patent and when it would be filed, to which he sort of fobbed me off with and answer and emailed me some correspondance from the patant lawyer which said that it had been filed as a patent and was due for release in 2009.

    Since then i have tried to find out about the patent on my invention and stumbled accorss it on a patent search database, but there is no mention of me as the inventor, just my Ex managers name.

    I am pretty angry about this, and although i no longer work there, it was my fist ever patent and i am very proud of it. The patent was applied for when i still worked there and I was the guy who invented the damn thing.

    Is this unreasonable for them to have done this? Or do you think I'm over reacting?

    I feel pretty let down about it all, but suspected that my imcompetent ego crazy ex boss would probably do this :(

    What do you think?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2010 #2

    FredGarvin

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    In the few places I have worked that had people filing patents, the company owned the patent, but had the courtesy to put the originator's name also on the patent. If it were me, I would be pretty cheesed as well, but there is nothing illegal about being a complete a-hole. Since you had the info from the patent lawyer forwarded to you, I would try contacting him and seeing what would be the possibility of just getting your name associated with the patent.
     
  4. Jan 29, 2010 #3

    Borg

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    I don't find that very surprising. Most of the companies that I have worked for have clauses in the contract saying that all patents belong to them. And, if they are even remotely related to your work, it also includes ones that are created on your own time. Your manager's name may be on it but he may never see a dime from it either.
     
  5. Jan 29, 2010 #4
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    I had to sign on of these when I got hired at my company about 3 years ago now and I had to sign one at my previous employer as well.

    Thanks
    Matt
     
  6. Jan 29, 2010 #5

    RonL

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Most companies have forms that when signed, give them the rights.

    If you used their time and resources for development and quit before it was finalized, I would think you have little or no chance of changing anything.

    A real heartbreaker for sure, just take pride in what you know you did and move on.
    Some people ruin their lives fighting for something they have no chance of obtaining.

    If your creative, other things still need inventing, learn how to make the most of covering yourself when something new comes to you.

    Ron
     
  7. Jan 29, 2010 #6

    Q_Goest

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Normally, when we do patents (I have 7), we fill out some forms that the company uses to execute the patent. Those forms include a description of the invention and names of the inventors along with their signature and a witness or two. The process of patenting the invention is a long and tedious one as you know, and generally the inventor is part of that patenting process, so the form is generally not all encompassing, but only gives a relatively brief description in non-legal terms about what that invention is. The inventor also generally has to do the patent search here, and we have to comment on the prior art and how our invention differs. That all takes a large amount of give and take with a patent attorney. It sounds like your boss did that job in your absence, which is why he's listed as an inventor.

    If you have a copy of a form like that or any other documentation that shows you were the inventor, then you have a claim to that patent and at the very least, you should have your name listed as an inventor.

    If you don't have any documentation showing you were the inventor, I'd say you've got a tough road to hoe. Not too sure what you could do if you have nothing to prove you were the inventor. I'd start by contacting other people you worked with at the company if you want to pursue this. They may or may not want to support your claim.

    Regardless of what documentation you have, I'd suggest writing a letter to the company documenting what you feel your contribution was and why you should be listed as an inventor (patents generally have multiple inventors). You might even suggest you have documentation even if you don't, as a threat to have your name put onto the patent.
     
  8. Jan 29, 2010 #7

    minger

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Patent law can be very strict. The company will always own the patent, that's just how it is. You sign the form, they pay for it, they own it. However, when mentioning the inventors, ALL parties who were associated with it need to be listed, and NONE others.

    Patents can easily be nullified by either not including all parties or listing people who weren't involved. You could be a dick, prove that you worked on the project and get their patent on that product voided. Your best bet assuming you want on that patent is to threaten that fact.

    Although, this should all be discussed with a licensed patent attorney first, ;)
     
  9. Jan 29, 2010 #8

    Q_Goest

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Agreed. The company will own the patent but legally, all the inventor's names must be listed on the patent.
     
  10. Jan 29, 2010 #9
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    I like the sound of that!

    The thing is, other people at the company were in the same position, but their names appear alongside my ex boss as the inventor. The only difference is that when i left, he obviously changed the application before it was filed.

    I actually showed the invention to the MD of the company, sales team amongst others at the company, and i have kept all of the original prototype drawings that i did.

    It's very annoying. I appreciate that i have no claim over the use of the patent, but out of decency i hoped that my name would have been honored as the inventor. I certainly would take no pride in listing my name as the inventor of a product that i didn't invent.

    I'm just about to submit my application to become a Chartered Engineer, and very much wanted to include this patent document in my Appendix to really add that edge to my application. Can't do that now :(

    People never cease to disappoint do they!?

    Cheers for your responses everyone,

    Nice to get it off my chest :)

    Cheers,

    Mech King
     
  11. Jan 29, 2010 #10
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    DANGER WILL ROBINSON...DANGER, DANGER!!!!!
    never burn (or even excessively heat) your bridges.
    If the company is a large one, and you cause them extra $$, bad feelings, or bad PR that will always be remembered.
    It is amazing how often in my career I repeatedly come across persons I worked with at other places, or have had to deal with previous companies. (and maybe I needed their help)
    If your career is just beginning, I would be VERY cautious that what I was doing was not actually a self inflicted gunshot wound.
    If you go to court, and produce papers that were COMPANY property, that you removed without written permission, at the very least, they could be deemed as not admissable. worse case, theft, industrial espoinage, etc (potential felony). just bad press for your own career.

    and then there is always the possibility that after fighting with them, years later, you want a new, kickbutt job someplace, walk in and see the person interviewing is someone that was involved in the whole thing.

    I'd let it go and not waste my own valuable time (and $$$) on something with no real value in the end value other than possible self gratification

    dr
     
  12. Jan 29, 2010 #11

    turbo

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Good advice. If you aim to get to the top of a specialized field, your success will depend on your reputation and credibility in the relevant field. The higher you get in a specialization, the more interconnectedness you'll find at the top levels of your field. When I was consulting for pulp and paper mills, I had to sign non-disclosure agreements with each contract, and that prevented me from demonstrating my work for Corp. A to the principals of Corp. B in a bid for more contract work. That didn't slow me down much, because there is so much chatter at the top levels of those big companies, and I generally had to turn down work. I would love to have been credited publicly for having discovered large savings (pure profit, in some instances) for some clients, but getting insider referrals and a steady flow of business had to be enough.
     
  13. Feb 5, 2010 #12
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    I understand that you are proud of your INVENTION, and rightly so. However patents are not about invention, and do much more harm than good. You have just stumbled upon one very tiny reason why: patents are issued to those first filing it, not those first inventing it (if any invention in the patent whatsoever, which is mostly not the case, and it is a question which would lead far-far away).
    Good set of examples are patents filed for "inventions" computer science guys routinely use for decades, or the human genome, which is there for million years. The saddest stories however are attached to medical patents, which were researched on government (read: your) money, and their result made available to some people (read: you) for exorbitant prices because the monopoly, and are unavailable to other people due to lack of paying customers. Just think of the African population where people in the order of 30 to 60 percent of population have contracted AIDS (depending on country), and medication is unavailable to them due to prohibitive cost due to monopoly.

    (I realize this post might be out of the forum charter, I was just unable to resist. Every time I hear the word "patent" I got upset. Apologies. )
     
  14. Feb 5, 2010 #13
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Post 10 and 11 reflect good advice. Unless you have a huge amount to gain personally you should consider just dropping the whole thing. A future employer will listen that you did invent something and attach some credibility to your story; that same potential employer might well avoid you if they associate you with a big suit or bad publicity...."He caused all that trouble for ABC company, he might well do the same here...."

    Seems like your reputation is not worth THIS fight.
     
  15. Feb 5, 2010 #14

    vanesch

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    There is something in copyright (but I don't know for patents) called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights_(copyright_law)" [Broken], that is, even thought you sold the copyright, you are still entitled to the honor of being mentioned as the creator of the thing, given that that is a "historical fact" and you are entitled to the recognition of that true fact.

    However, that's for copyright. I don't know for patents.

    As to the "beware, don't make people angry", good relations are always a good thing, but a track record of established work also: it might be important for your career future that you could show that you were the inventor of that thing (as a kind of proof of your creativity).

    Best would be if you could arrange amiably with your former company that your name is somehow attached to the patent while making clear that you don't intent to try to get money out of it (which is probably impossible, as they own the patent legally).

    I don't see why it would be a problem for the company to recognize you alongside the other collaborators who did the work - unless you left on bad terms or something. So that should be negotiable on amiable terms, no ?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  16. Feb 5, 2010 #15

    russ_watters

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Just a little point of order here, the OP doesn't appear to be wanting to claim ownership, just credit so he can put "I have a patent!" on his resume.
     
  17. Feb 5, 2010 #16
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    I have sorted the whole issue:

    I was unable to get a response from my ex manager, he was avoiding the whole situation hoping i'd stop pestering him, it's a very long story, but i managed to speak to another Engineering manager there and he could see things from my perspective, and agreed that from a professional code of conduct point of view, anyone involved with the invention should be on the patent etc etc etc, so now they have contacted the Patent office to report the mistake and are going to pay to have it ammended, and in the meantime they will provide me with a letter to say that i was the inventor (words to that effect). So it was worth following through.

    I didn't just want to have my name associated with the patent so i could tell future employers or whoever (though that is a fair enough thing to want), but I am proud of all of my achievements and it is important for people to be given recognition of their hard work when appropriate, and i would be deeply annoyed if somone elses name was against my invention (even though the rights sare reserved for the company). It was purely a matter of principle.

    I have been able to end the whole thing amicably with my former manager, and so it shouldn't effect references, :)

    God,.......................im very happy now, bring on the weekend. :smile:
     
  18. Feb 5, 2010 #17

    turbo

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Very nice outcome, Mech King! Best wishes in your career.
     
  19. Feb 5, 2010 #18
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    goo job
    congrats

    dr
     
  20. Feb 5, 2010 #19
    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Cheer guys :smile:

    WOooooohoooe

    thanks for listening to my ranting on,

    Mech King
     
  21. Feb 5, 2010 #20

    russ_watters

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    Re: Am I over reacting guys??????

    Congrats, I'm glad it all worked out for you.
     
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