Matt, a football enthusiast, conceived a concept for improving a quarterback’s passing form after watching his favorite quarterback struggle throwing accurate passes during his first season in the pros. However, Matt has trouble developing the technical mechanisms for implementing the concept and is unsure of his patent rights.
Matt, excited about the commercial potential of a device that could improve a quarterback’s passing form, contacted a patent attorney to get an understanding of his rights. In preparation for his meeting with the attorney, Matt developed handwritten sketches of the concept of the device along with a one-page abstract describing how the device should work.
However, Matt’s materials primarily described the external features of the device but failed to disclose the internal configurations and mechanisms to which illustrate how the device should function. Most importantly, Matt’s sketches failed to show the internal components of an engagement mechanism, as described in the abstract, which later proved to be the crux of the invention. In fact, Matt could not explain how the engagement mechanism functions or what components the mechanism would consist of.
Upon reviewing Matt’s materials, the attorney informed Matt that he presently did not have an invention but instead simply had a concept for an invention. After Matt was convinced that he did not have an invention, Matt inquired about the possibility of seeking out an engineer to help him develop the concept into a fully functional prototype.
In response, the attorney informed Matt that unless the engineer is an employee of Matt’s and that he mandates that the engineer sign an agreement that all intellectual property stemming from the project is assigned to Matt, the rights to the patented invention will have to be shared by both Matt and the engineer. As such, both Matt and the engineer would have equal rights to the patented invention so long as both contributed to at least one claim in any patents arising from the invention.
Matt was disappointed upon receiving this advice so the attorney recommended that Matt take some additional time to fully develop the invention on his own so Matt can maintain exclusive rights to his invention.