Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Inventing Things While Employed - a Sticky Situation

I have been blogging a bit lately about my favorite case of the year, the Mattel v. MGA battle royal pitting Barbie dolls against Bratz dolls. Bottom line, Bratz were created by a Mattel employee, Carter Bryant, while he was employed by Mattel. A jury determined that MGA had stolen the Bratz idea from Mattel and interfered with its contractual relations with Bryant.

Evidently a man who created the most popular and profitable widget on Facebook was not following the Mattel case. Dave Maestri created Mob Wars which makes millions per month on Facebook. Problem is, his employer, the Social Gaming Network alleges that he created it while working for SGM. If true, SGM will likely end up owning Mob Wars under contractual rights or the work for hire doctrine which states, in general terms, that intellectual property created by employees belongs to the employer.

The lessen to take from this - if you have a snappy new idea make sure to consult an experienced intellectual property lawyer to ensure that your million dollar idea does not end up being owned by your employer.

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