Ego is Grounds for Cause of Action in Inventor Dispute

Socrates once said “the way to a good reputation is to be what you desire to appear.”  For one man, he wanted to be a named inventor.   

In an action against his former employer, Seagate, Mr. Shukh filed an action in federal district court charging that his reputation was harmed by Seagate’s failure to include him as an inventor on 6 Seagate patents.  The district court dismissed the action finding that Mr. Shukh did not provide sufficient evidence to support his case.  However, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that hears patent cases, vacated the lower court’s decision.  The court found that “being considered an inventor of important subject matter is a mark of success in one’s field comparable to being an author of an important scientific paper.” 

What’s the take away here?  If you are an inventor, and you are not identified as such on a patent application or issued patent, you may have a case against your employer based on harm to your reputation.  As the court stated, if you are correctly an inventor of important subject matter, being recognized as such is a mark of professional success.  Failure to be properly included as an inventor may harm one’s reputation which may be actionable.

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