“THE GREEDY INVENTOR: A Start Up Horror Story”

What you are about to read is an intellectual property horror story based on a true incident. The names have been changed to protect the naive and innocent.

The Birth of InnovateCorp:

InnovateCorp, a scrappy startup nestled in the heart of the city, held promise amidst its towering competitors. Its tale begins with a brilliant engineer named Alex, who joined the ranks. Renowned for his unparalleled ingenuity and rapid idea-to-reality execution, Alex’s entry was embraced by InnovateCorp’s CEO, Mr. Baxter. Mr. Baxter and Alex had a long-standing friendship and Mr. Baxter had hopes that Alex’s contributions could bolster the company’s patent portfolio.

A Revolutionary Idea:

As days turned into weeks, Alex immersed himself in a project assigned by Mr. Baxter. In the midst of this endeavor, Alex stumbled upon a revolutionary Web3 concept that ignited his passion. Recognizing its potential to reshape the world, he invested heart and soul into this groundbreaking innovation, craving the recognition and rewards that accompanied it.

The Unraveling:

Weeks later, Mr. Baxter uncovered Alex’s exceptional idea. Recognizing its game-changing potential, Mr. Baxter directed Alex to spearhead a global campaign safeguarding the revolutionary Web3 technology. Entrusting Alex with the lead role, Mr. Baxter engaged a top-tier law firm, Clinton Lewinsky, to ensure comprehensive patent protection. Dr. Monica Drew, a skilled attorney, collaborated tirelessly with Alex to perfect the patent documents. Initially, Monica included Mr. Baxter in their email exchanges, but the email exchanges started clogging Mr. Baxter’s inbox, so Mr. Baxter asked to be left off the emails. Monica obliged Mr. Baxter’s simple request.

The Shadows of Greed:

However, Alex was a shrewd individual. He realized InnovateCorp had forgotten to require Alex to agree to sign his patent rights to his inventions over to the company. And greed engulfed him.

The Betrayal:

Months went by. Alex left the company to pursue “other ventures.” But Mr. Baxter was unfazed by Alex’s departure. After all, InnovateCorp had the patent rights – or so he thought. Patents on the W3 tech started rolling in. Monica and Clinton Lewinsky kept on filing new patent applications to protect the W3 tech all over the world. And Mr. Baxter of InnovateCorp kept on paying Clinton Lewinsky’s bills.

The Heart-Wrenching Call:

Mr. Baxter was finally ready to raise capital to deploy the technology. EAGLE VC was very interested in the W3 technology. During due diligence by EAGLE VC, interested in InnovateCorp’s W3 technology, a call forever altered Mr. Baxter’s destiny. EAGLE VC told Mr. Baxter that Alex owned the patents, not InnovateCorp. Alex never assigned his patent rights to InnovateCorp. Panic consumed Mr. Baxter as he sought answers from Monica.

Mr. Baxter called Monica with Clinton Lewinsky to ask what happened. “How could he own the patents? InnovateCorp has been paying your bills for the last year!” Mr. Baxter shouted. Monica was silent. “I need to get back to you,” she said. The truth emerged—Alex never signed patent assignment agreements, and his absence of an employment agreement compounded the issue.

Confronting the Avarice:

Desperate, Mr. Baxter contacted Alex, who evaded him until a fateful encounter. Mr. Baxter finally caught up with Alex outside of a juice bar in Silicon Valley. Mr. Baxter asked, “Alex, why are you ignoring me? I need you to sign documents to transfer your rights to InnovateCorp.” Alex responded as he climbed into his Lamborghini, “I never agreed to that. I only agreed to develop for you. And you never paid me my true worth. And now it’s too late. I transferred my rights to SNAKE VC. Best of Luck.”

Alex sped away. Mr. Baxter watched the red tail rights of Alex’s Lambo get smaller and smaller.  Suddenly, Mr. Baxter felt a sudden pain in his chest. Then, gasped. In a devastating twist, Mr. Baxter succumbed to a heart attack and dropped dead just outside of that juice bar, leaving InnovateCorp on the brink of bankruptcy.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Ownership by Agreement: Patents belong to inventors unless agreements state otherwise, even for employees.
  2. Transfer Agreements: Secure agreements from employees and contractors, incorporating cooperation and uncooperative employee clauses.
  3. Ownership Awareness: Ensure your attorney understands IP ownership, preventing future disputes.
  4. Preventive Measures: Avoid legal battles—preventative measures are more resource-effective than litigation.
  5. Be wary of a law firm named CLINTON LEWINSKY
DEREK FAHEY, ESQUIRE – Derek is a registered patent attorney and one of managing partners of The Plus IP Firm, PLLC. Derek’s practice is focused on creating, monetizing and protecting intellectual property assets.
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