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Intellectual property denotes mind creations which possess characteristics that are distinct enough to warrant the lawful recognition of exclusive rights. These creations include discoveries, inventions, designs, as well as software. Under the law of intellectual property, owners of the said creations are granted exclusive property rights which include patents, trade secrets and industrial design rights. Nevertheless, the concise definitions of these rights vary from one jurisdiction to another. Moreover, the principles that govern intellectual property evolve over time, a situation which makes their definitions to vary with time. Broadly speaking, intellectual property encompasses much of the designs in commerce, especially those that relate to intangibles such as software (Fairbrothers 208).
Intellectual property is categorized as industrial property and copyright. Industrial property is the category that comprises of patents (inventions), trademarks and industrial designs. On the other hand, copyright comprises of artistic and literary works. The second category does not concern the electronics manufacturing company under the new management as the company does not engage in the production of artistic works.
The goal of intellectual property legislation is to safeguard innovation. Intellectual property accords the creators sufficient incentives and social value of the innovation they produce so as to encourage creativity. The absolute protection is encouraging as it regards the intellectual property to be of the same status as real properties. The exclusive rights enable the owners to gain from their creation as it is assumed that they incurred research and development expenses. As such, it would be unfair to allow the competitors to use their work without adequate compensation. In addition to granting the innovators their economic and moral rights, the government utilizes property rights as a means of limiting public access to the creations of others. With such a limitation, the government hopes to promote fair trading which would contribute then to social and economic development. The government, therefore, endeavors at enforcing the intellectual property rights as a means of facilitating economic growth in industries.
Over 60 percent of corporations in the United States deal with intangible assets. As such, these are a major source of employment. Due to the dynamism and employees’ turnover in these firms, it has become necessary to enact laws aimed at regulating employees’ contracts with their employers. These laws prohibit the employees from disclosing trade secrets to the competitors, even when they have left the company. The electronics manufacturing company ought to have patented its Major-domo invention so as to facilitate the claims of theft or misuse by the unauthorized parties (Jentz and Hollowell 71). Should Riskier realize that Major-domo had not been patented, he should visit the Patent and Trademark Office as soon as possible so as to legalize its ownership.
The government grants the creator of an innovation a patent that is aimed at protecting his/her work for a period of time. In America, the patents last for twenty years since the time that the holder files for the rights. This means that the inventions relating to Major-domo are still the company’s belongings, as long as their ownership had been legalized. It is most likely that the previous owners of the electronics manufacturing company had filed for the rights. This implies that their innovations and state of technology are protected irrespective of the employees’ transfer to other firms. Having invested resources in the research, the government has taken the initiative of protecting the company as the inventor of the state of art technology. As a company dealing with technology, the necessity of legal protection cannot be underestimated by the law enforcement agencies of the government. This is due to the economic value that such industries avail to the society (Miller and Jentz 30).
In addition to the protection of original creations, patents safeguard significant improvements on the items that had been invented earlier. The company in question has unique industrial designs which had not been invented by any other party. The software, as an original computer program, ought to have been protected under the law of patent. Of late, the government is also patenting unique ways of undertaking business engagements. This is done in an endeavor to inspire entrepreneurs as they maneuver the tough economic times. Therefore, an employee would be held liable to an offence of infringement should he/she share the company’s innovations or methods of doing business without proper authorization.
There are three basic qualifications for patents. Firstly, the invention must be novel. Should the examiner establish that the arrogated invention is already patented or discussed in scientific journals, the Patent and Trademark Office declares that the invention as anticipated. It, therefore, proceeds to deny the patent as the claimant is assumed to be benefiting unfairly from other parties’ investments on research works. Secondly, the arrogated invention should be non-obvious. This implies that the work ought to have significantly improved the existing technology. As such, minimal alterations to existing devices are not patented. Patenting minimal changes would act as a hindrance to innovation and technological advancement. Finally, the invention must be one that serves the useful purpose. This means that inventions whose utility is immoral or illegal cannot be patented. A number of discoveries cannot be patented. For instance, no party whatsoever can patent a scientific principle of a law of nature.
The Major-domo invention is unique since it meets all the three qualifications. It has the unique novelty having been developed from scratch. As such, it would be easily traceable as infringements can be easily detected. The work is a clear improvement of the existing technology. This is among the major qualifications for its patenting as it is set to enhance the operations of home and office gadgets. Since the innovation is legal, the company should not be faced with difficulty while filing for a patent.
There have been some instances when multiple applications for patents on a single invention have occurred. The law allows the original inventor to acquire patent for the work. Should there arise a difficulty in establishing who the original inventor was, the Patent and Trademark Office utilizes a proceeding referred to as interference. The loser has an opportunity to appeal the ruling at the Court of Appeal. However, the strategy depends on the country in question. For instance, there are countries that grant the rights to the first applicant. Such circumstances require the original inventor to apply for patent as fast as he can before any other party applies.
Any party that uses patented inventions without consulting their owners is guilty of a crime of infringement. Additionally, the law prohibits the making, offering for sale and selling of other people’s inventions without the owners’ authority. There are some instances where the use of an unpatented item may be described as infringement. Such instances include when a device operates in the same manner as a patented invention. Under the doctrine of equivalents, a party may be found guilty of infringement even with the existence of minor variations between the two items. Nevertheless, juries interpret the doctrine of equivalents cautiously in an endeavor to avoid according a patentee an unregulated level of protection (Jentz and Hollowell 64). In fact, unregulated protection may prove to be counterproductive as it may hinder progress in innovation and business.
Should there be infringement, a patentee may take a legal action against the infringer. In most cases, such instances are meant to facilitate the recovery of damages as per the rulings of federal juries. In some cases, a patentee may be seeking to obtain a court injunction directing the infringer and other parties to stop infringing on the patented invention. At times accused parties argue that the claimed patent was wrongly granted, a situation which results into the limitation of inventions. Should the infringer raise such an issue, the jury is tasked with the responsibility of determining the validity of the patent in question (Jentz and Hollowell 60).
First sale doctrine has been a common defense against infringement claims. Under the principle, whenever a patentee sells the patented item, the purchaser may resell or use it in whichever manner that he wishes without being regarded as an infringer. As such, the consumers who will purchase commodities from the electronics manufacturing company will not be regarded as infringers. The aggrieved party can file patent lawsuit before any federal jury in America. However, all appeals relating to patent cases are heard by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The court, which sits in Washington, D.C., has been established to ensure the uniformity of the patent law throughout the country.
In law, contract is the agreement that obliged parties to live up to their promises. For a contract to be varied there must be a mutual assent, a legal consideration, absence of fraudulent dealings, legality of the subject matter and the capacity to enter into a contract. As such, valid contracts are in line with the public policy. Generally, parties can enter into contracts either orally or in writing. However, there are contracts that are unenforceable unless they have been written and signed. Such contracts are those that involve the sale or transfer of commodities amounting above a certain value (Henner 25). This means that the electronics manufacturing company in question would be required to sign contracts with the customers if its sales are of a value higher than the stipulated amount.
There are instances when contracts are regarded as wholly void. These are when one of the parties is a lunatic or an individual under the influence of narcotics or alcohol. The contract is nullified as the party is regarded as being incapable to exercise its free will. Nevertheless, such contracts are continually being recognized depending on the prevailing circumstances. Legal practitioners have begun regarding them as voidable, instead of wholly void. They are, therefore, enforced if the other party was unaware of the incompetency during the signing. They are therefore deemed fair and enforceable. In addition, if one of the parties was a minor, the contract is regarded voidable as it may be affirmed by the said party on attaining the age of eighteen years.
Bleach of Contract
Should one of the parties breach the contract, the injured party has a right of seeking legal redress. Consequently, the jury may require the injuring party to pay for damages cause and, in some instances, issue an injunction or rescission if monetary damages cannot compensate the injured party for the breach. The main aim of seeking legal redress is to force the breaching party to perform as per the precise terms that has been agreed in the contract (Henner 23). This means that an individual may sue for money or other performances.
Presuming that the workers were hired on contract, Riskier should consider seeking the legal redress against the employees for abandoning the company without any prior notice. For those whose contract periods have expired, Riskier should remind them of the illegality of sharing the company’s innovations and methods of doing business without authorization. Despite the minor variations, patent legislations across the world bear similarities in their application. For instance, if a Chinese firm uses or sells Major-domo without proper authorization, it would be regarded as infringement. Although compensation claims may not be settled in exactly the same manner, juries demand retribution for the damage caused.