O P I N I O N
Intellectual property (Part 1)
I n view of the complexity, laws, and government institutions impacting intellectual property creation and enforcement, civil and structural engineers can easily lose sight of the basic premise that IP, such as patents and trade secrets, ultimately boils down to legal property. Like any other form of property, the law operates to determine legal ownership of patents and trade secrets. If innovators find themselves on the wrong side of these rules, the law may deny them legal ownership of what should have been their IP. If innovators find themselves on the wrong side of these rules, the law may deny them legal ownership of what should have been their intellectual property. Stephen Keefe
PATENT OWNERSHIP. Federal preemption of patent law is nearly universal, with the law generally requiring a registration issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to show patent ownership. In general, civil and structural word in intellectual property such as patents and trade secrets is property.” “Civil and structural engineers should remember that the legally operative
If engineers can’t legally show they own what they believe is their IP, whether by registration or some other means that courts will recognize, they won’t be able to enforce what they believe is their property. Civil and structural engineers should endeavor to avoid ending up in this unfortunate position. A few IP ownership best practices and pitfalls follow, which civil and structural engineers can consider keeping in mind in managing their enterprises. This article covers ownership issues in two of the main legal pillars of IP: patent and trade secret. A second article in this series will cover ownership issues in trademark and copyright.
See STEPHEN KEEFE, page 12
THE ZWEIG LETTER March 23, 2020, ISSUE 1337
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