Law/421 Article Review

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Date Submitted: 07/13/2012 09:29 PM

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DATE: April 28, 2012

TO: Dr. William C. Anderson

FROM: Robert R. Gonzales

RE: Consultant's IP Rights Not Automatically Transferred Brown, Marc E. "Consultant's IP rights not automatically transferred." Electronic Business July 2001: 22. Gale Document Number: GALE|A76445295


Consultants are often hired in today’s business world to either come up with ideas to meet their employer’s needs, or to help improve upon an existing idea of the employer. In this article the author discusses the rights of both consultants and employers concerning developing technology, software, and trade secrets. Technology which is developed by a consultant will contain usually some form of intellectual property rights. As said in the article, “Surprisingly, these rights are not transferred to the employer simply because the employer pays for the consultant’s time,” If the employer is not aware of this, and applies for a patent for a concept on which the consultant contributed, and does not name the consultant as a co-inventor, serious problems may arise. If the employer deliberately did not name the consultant as a co-inventor, the patent could be invalidated. It would be best to name the consultant as a co-inventor and obtain an assignment of their patent rights.

Copyrights on software are similar to property rights on intellectual property when it concerns using consultants. The employment agreement between the employer and consultant should specify that the employer is assigned the copyright by the consultant. If not, the employer would not be able to claim a copyright infringement if someone tries to copy the software.

Trade secrets also follow closely with copyrights. If there is not an express assignment between the consultant and employer in regard to trade secrets, the employer would...