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Engineering How to seek input on a non-patented invention

  1. Aug 7, 2017 #21

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I agree with @infinitebubble , the Sears case on the wrench invented by an 18yr old working at Sears is a case in point. The lawyer colluded with Sears to defraud him of his invention.
     
  2. Aug 7, 2017 #22
    <<Emphasis added>>
    Documentation won't prevent theft of your idea. Perhaps it might provide evidence that it was stolen. But then be prepared for lengthy expensive legal action.
     
  3. Aug 7, 2017 #23

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I think @infinitebubble meant they can't formally take it from you as opposed to someone stealing your notes and running to a competitor. You must keep your notes them secure and you must document everything so as to prevent them from grabbing your invention.

    This can be especially tricky at a company where you often sign an IP document to say that all ideas and inventions are the company's if developed using company resources, company time or company IP and sometimes extends to company businesses.

    This last one means that even if you are a programmer in Company X working at a computer center and invent a new kind of light bulb, then if Company X is in the business of selling light bulbs they own your idea because you signed that right away when you were hired. You also might have to get their permission before pursuing your idea on your own time.
     
  4. Aug 7, 2017 #24
    But after exhaustive courtroom drama it will be proven without a shadow of doubt it belonged to you as long as documented evidence existed it was originated by you. Many cases have been won because of this existing documentation, dated and signed either by you or other witnesses. Microsoft was one who tried for years using the 'mouse' technology as their own but later proved by a small company in Florida (less than 7 people) who created the mouse technology in court and won against Microsoft and over $250 million dollars plus royalties given to the small company in damages.

    https://www.law360.com/articles/22858/microsoft-sued-again-over-scrolling-mouse

    https://partners.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/12/biztech/articles/16microsoft-mouse.html

    Even with patent disclosures Microsoft stole the mouse technology but still lost to the original inventors in California (Goldtouch Mouse). Such is how documentation of inventors proved to be of upmost importance if one expects to win in court.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  5. Aug 7, 2017 #25

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    In contrast, Gordon Gould's case went the other way because the US government had classified his notebooks preventing him from asserting his rights on inventing the laser. Later, when they were declassified he was able to claim the patent but lost much of the potential royalties from it.
     
  6. Aug 7, 2017 #26
    It's important to emphasize that a patent has value only insofar as the inventor or patent owner has the resources to enforce it.
     
  7. Aug 7, 2017 #27

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    Again this depends on the patent, there are law firms that will take your case if it is seen as a valuable patent. They will take on the risk and percentage of the what is won. The podcast When Patents Attack talks about a major law firm that represents the little guy, paid him quite well but make a real killing on infringement lawsuits.

    Other times, an obscure patent may save a company from oppressive royalties by canceling out the effect of a litigious patent i.e. By invalidating one or more of its claims and so the inventor gets support that way.
     
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