Monday, December 8

Not so fast buddy... I want my cut

Okay, so you do a “market survey” with 10 of your friends. They all love your idea, tell you how great it is, fill out your survey and send you on your way.

You go back home and start reading the information and comments they provided. You find that in addition to glowing scores, your friend “Jill” put down in the remarks that although she loved the product, you should move the handle from the side, up to the top, make the product 25% larger and far more functional.

You start looking at your product and realize she’s right. It not only looks better, it functions much better as well – that was great advice!

Fast forward a year, all your friends were right. Your product is a great big hit and it found national distribution in major retailers.

One day your friend Jill sees you driving your brand new BMW and thinks to herself “wow, that product must be making a ton of money”. Later that same week she sees it in her local Walmart noticing you took the advice she had offered a year earlier. You moved the handle, making the invention far more functional than your original design.

After seeing your new car, and the product in Walmart, Jill is convinced you're making millions of dollars from your product.

She talks it over with her husband and they come to the conclusion that your success is obviously because of the enhancements Jill suggested. She feels (no doubt validated by her husband) that she should be rewarded for her part in making your product such a great success.

So Jill looks at her options and contacts an attorney. In the end Jill files a law suit against you and claims “Co-Inventor” status on your patent - Giving her a legal share of your invention.

Should Jill be entitled to Co-Inventor status? What are the legal issues involved with asking people advice during the inventing and development stages of a product - and how do you indemnify yourself and your product in a case like that?

These are all very important questions, and you had better take a few moments to answer them before you start to ask people their opinion on your invention.

Mark Reyland

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Very good points.
    I also wonder about my patent attorney. I'm new to the legal end of things, though I've been an inventor my whole life. Can one be protected from an attorney actually claiming to be a co-inventor after writing up the patent application (or provisional patent) with his/her own "twist" or description of your invention? Or is there some built in protection in the system?