An associate of mine and I jointly filed a patent, through my current employer. I was required to sign an assignment agreement when I started as a condition of employment. My friend worked for the same employer at the time of the filing but has since left the company. My associate never signed an assignment agreement as a condition of employment. My company recently sent my associate a document that, if signed, assigned patent ownership to my company, with no offer for compensation. My associate contends that the company never made an assignment agreement a requirement for his employment and therefore he is a co-owner of the IP in question. When my associate refused to assign ownership, my company submitted a document to the patent office that falsely claimed that my associate was not reachable. The patent attorney used by my company, our HR department and I have routinely exchanged correspondence with my associate. I believe that my company may have committed perjury in an attempt to effectively steal valuable IP that may be jointly owned by both my company and my associate. Am I correct and if I am, what advice do you have for my associate?
A certified letter to both the company and their patent attorney/agents explaining these circumstances should put them on notice that your colleague is indeed reachable and intends to exert his interest in the particular invention. Lawyers have a duty to report matters of fact to the USPTO that affect the case and if they have filed that he is unreachable and know otherwise ... that is misconduct.
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