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Law Firm Claims Right to Partner’s Invention

Posted Oct 12, 2007 6:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An intellectual property law firm is claiming it owns the patents on inventions by one of its partners.

That’s the claim in a lawsuit against Google by a company that bought the right to the patents from a lawyer who worked for Fish & Richardson, the Recorder reports. The suit says the law firm is making the claim to defeat the infringement suit against Google, a client of Fish & Richardson.

At issue in the lawsuit by new patent owner Illinois Computer Research is whether Google is infringing a patent for a method of turning pages of an online book. The lawyer who patented that method, Scott Harris of San Diego, never agreed to give the patents to Fish & Richardson, according to a lawyer for ICR.

Lawyer Steven Tindall, an expert in California employment law, told the Recorder that employees can keep the rights to their inventions if they develop them on their own time and it has nothing to do with their employer’s business.

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