Forgive me if this question makes no sense or seems trivial; my profession is in molecular biology, so I am here from the Biology Stack Exchange and know very little about patents.

I am wondering about what exactly this means:

By participating, each Participant forever waives any rights of copyrights, trademark rights, patent rights, privacy rights, and any other legal or moral rights in the entry that may preclude the Sponsor’s use of the entry, or require such Participant’s permission for the Sponsor to use the entry.

There is more, but it doesn't really apply to my question... if it would help, I can include it though.

Does this mean that the sponsor owns any ideas presented in the entry? What if it is patented before the entry is submitted?

If you need more information about the circumstances, I will gladly elaborate. I just didn't want to bog down the question with unnecessary information.

Thank you for your patience and help. :)

1 Answer 1


Intuitively it seems to me that the intention is that the sponsor is allowed to use whatever your entry is, and you cannot use any IP rights you have to prevent that.

Does this mean that the sponsor owns any ideas presented in the entry?

No: I don't think there's anything in the wording to support this. While they will have free use of the ideas, they don't own them in any sense.

What if it is patented before the entry is submitted?

This is tricky. In particular, the unqualified use of "waive" seems a little concerning.

For example, a patent grants the owner a right to prevent others from using the patented invention. In a naive interpretation of the provision, waiving that right would mean you cannot enforce your patent against anyone (as that right is what precludes the sponsor's use of the entry). This would seemingly deprive the patent of a good part of its value.

Alternatively, perhaps you are merely waiving that right merely to the extent that the sponsor wishes to use it. This seems the sensible interpretation based on what I assume the intention is, but it's not really made clear in the text. However, that also raises the issue of whether the limited waiver is actually a licence (and thus needs to be registered, and might be assignable).

I think it's impossible to know for sure, to be honest. If you can get some clarification from the organisers, that might be a good route.

Mandatory recommendation

If this is important (which in this case would mean a lot of money is at stake), get some advice from a real lawyer in your jurisdiction.


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