I am named as an inventor on a patent that I assigned to company A 17 years ago. At the time, I was employed by a contracting firm, company B, which was under contract to company A. Some time after the contract between company A and company B concluded, company A filed for bankruptcy, and its intellectual property was acquired by company C, which later changed its name to company D, and was later acquired by company E. The patent now has a long chain of assignments. Over the years, the patent has undergone several continuations and divisionals without my knowledge or involvement.
Company E is now the plaintiff in a lawsuit involving the patent and wishes to file a new divisional that will include different claims. According to them, I am required to sign a new declaration due to recent changes in U.S. patent law prompted by the AIA. The new declaration is essentially identical to the original declaration, but with a new statement that the prior application was authorized by me. I'm not sure why the original declaration does not cover this. They claim that I have an obligation to assist with the filing.
What obligates me to assist company E? Does my obligation to company A via the contract with company B extend to company E? Does the original declaration of assignment to company A obligate me to assist company E? If so, why am I now required to sign a new declaration?