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My son is a senior in college majoring in mechanical engineering. He is well versed in the CAD software. A friend and local business owner approached him and asked whether he would be interested in doing some CAD drawings for a invention he is trying to patent. He offered to pay my son for his time. My question is, Is my son entitled to royalties in the event that the product becomes successful? Should he receive publishing credit? What and how do we handle it?

As parents we are concerned that people will take advantage of our son’s abilities, and want to make sure that he protects his work.

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    If you're asking legal questions, you should probably mention your jurisdiction. At the very least, what country are you in? – TRiG Feb 22 '17 at 19:10
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    I have many patents. Most had someone else do the drawings. Those people didn't invent anything and aren't cited in any way on the patents. They are payed as any draftsmen would be. – Eric Shain Feb 22 '17 at 23:36
  • There is nothing stopping your son from including his work on this job on his resume and even citing the application or patent numbers once they are issued. Just don't have him claim to be the inventor. Beyond that, he gets nothing except the take home pay. – Eric Shain Mar 28 '17 at 19:15
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First of all, from a patent law point of view, your son is not entitled to anything just because he provided the drawings.

Now, drawings he does are certainly protected by Copyright, but if he gives them to the business owner for free, then they are gone. The question here is:

What should your son get as a reward for creating those drawings?

Which is beyond the scope of this site I fear. I'd suggest you talk this through with him, your friend and the business man. They apparently understand that work should be payed. What kind and amount of pay is a question for negotiation, but patent law does not provide an answer here. And after he got paid for those drawings, that's about it. I don't see a reason he should get more than the pay though as he didn't invent the invention nor did he invest more than the time he got paid for.

Basically, your son can gift those drawings to them or sell them and the pay is whatever both parties agree upon. Legally there might be regulations for working as a student or a minimum wage or something else that applies, but patent law doesn't apply.

He could be credited with a copyright notice, but that would still not entitle him to any further rights from any royalties the patent generates, it would only protect the drawings from beeing copied (may vary per jurisdiction, some require a copyright notice, in some it's implicit).

To adress your concern that he might get used - I don't think somebody creating drawings and getting paid for that is getting used. I'd rather interpret that as standard contractors work. If the pay sounds fair, considering there are professionals doing this kind of work too, your son earns some (extra) money and the business gets the work a little cheaper, I'd say that's a win-win.

  • "Drawings he does are certainly protected by copyright" - I'm not certain this is true. Is it an original work, if it's just a formalisation of drawings which already exist (presumably hand drawings)? And if there is copyright, giving drawings does not give the copyright (any more than buying a book doesn't give you the right to make copies of the book). – Maca Feb 23 '17 at 3:31
  • I'd say yes, there is copyright, but I admit I'm not 100% sure now anymore. With giving I mean allowing the usage in the patent. – DonQuiKong Feb 23 '17 at 9:44
  • I'm not sure why a draftsman getting paid to produce drawings for a patent is any different from someone getting paid for typing up the specification with respect to copyright. – Eric Shain Feb 23 '17 at 15:51
  • It's not afaik. – DonQuiKong Feb 23 '17 at 16:06
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This is just my opinion:

Is my son entitled to royalties in the event that the product becomes successful? - Not unless there was a contract which entitled your son to this. The patent owner holds full control of the product's success or failure. That is the point of a "patent" - i.e. to ensure the patent holder has control.

Should he receive publishing credit? If the patent holder described in detail to your son what the invention was and your son is not a contributor of ideas then perhaps no publishing credit is deserved. Your son was paid for his time as you mentioned.

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Also do remember that once the patent application gets published, it goes to public domain and all copyrights cease to exist. Ashok

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    This is simply not true. While there is an argument that the use of patent drawings (at least as part of a publication) cannot be restricted by the copyright held by the author, this does not mean that the copyright is somehow extinguished by publication. – Maca Mar 2 '17 at 8:26
  • A patent gets published only with the consent of the applicant.The application consents to put his work in public domain to get the benefit of the patent protection. – Ashok Chand Mathur Mar 3 '17 at 11:27
  • that's not how copyright works, Ashok. – Rory Alsop Mar 5 '17 at 18:59

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