Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Tennessee

My husband invented and has a patent on a an item called SkyCop. He introduced it to the company he works for and they loved it. They now sell it to police depts, military bases and even rent them out for fairs and for use in store parking lots. The company has made bunches off these. They are not cheap. His boss will not agree to any compensation, or royalties. This has been going on for 4 or 5 years. What can he do to get some!! Corporate has gotten greedy . He is the only one that knows what this thing can do or the posabilities of doing. Doesn't seem legal. They are now making his life miserable. Had the balls to take him out completely and put him in a different dept., but told him he still had to do the sales pitch for it when needed cause no one else knows it like he does. Someone is making some bucks and its not us. I can't pay for this to be answed, cause we are pretty broke right now. Please someone help us!!!1

Asked on 8/11/12, 8:32 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Nancy Delain Delain Law Office, PLLC
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Yours is an excellent question. It sounds like your husband made this invention while working for his employer. If that is the case, the employer actually does own the invention and need not pay any royalties. They would very likely have required your husband to assign the patent rights to them as part of his employment, which gives them full rights to all profits from the invention. His continued employment is seen as the compensation for the assignment of patent rights.

Bottom line, if the scenario I outline is correct, your husband is not likely to win any battle for patent royalties.

Your husband is the only person who knows the possibilities of his invention, which means that he is a valuable commodity to his company. He might ask to renegotiate his employment contract such that he is entitled to royalties on any improvements he contributes to his invention. If they're interested, they can negotiate to pay him a percentage of the profits (don't expect a large percentage); if not, they will likely ask him to leave his job. It's a risk only you and he can decide whether or not to take.

THIS POST CONTAINS GENERAL INFORMATION AND IS INTENDED FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. IT DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE, NOR DOES IT CREATE ANY ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. FOR LEGAL ADVICE ON YOUR PARTICULAR MATTER, CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY.

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8/11/12, 10:14 pm

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