What?…. you want a Divorce?
Unfortunately divorce can happen in any relationship…..even Inventing – let me explain.
Here you are, sitting around the den with a couple of friends on a Friday night and talk turns to some problem one of you has been experiencing. Maybe it’s a car issues, or a laundry issue, or whatever.
Suddenly someone says “Wow – what if we invented one of …..” The discussion gets animated, you get excited, they get excited, and before you know it you have the paper and pens out. You start brainstorming – designing this new idea. They’re throwing concepts around, you’re throwing concepts around – the night goes on like this for hours and by the end you’re partners in a new “Invention” ….How exciting!
Exciting, that is, until you find out this person is a great friend, awesome drinking buddy, but a really bad business partner. At that point you will inevitably wish you had dialed back the excitement, but down the beer, and taken the time to craft some form of agreement.
You sometimes see these kinds of contracts euphemistically called “divorce papers”…because essentially that’s what they are. They set out the terms of the divorce up front in the event the relationship deteriorates – and sadly they almost always do.
The agreement does not have to be anything elaborate, just a simple letter contract stating who initially came up with the idea, what each party is going to contribute to the process of taking the idea to market. and an outline of what happens when things don’t work out so well.
In fact – one of the first things companies look for when licensing a product from an inventor are these “loose ends” that may be floating around. Most companies will tell the inventor it is their responsibility to get letters from others who may have been involved or sign indemnifications swearing there are no unaddressed claims of ownership to the invention.
If there ends up being someone who causes a legal battle with the manufacturer later on, and the inventor never disclosed that person – Safe bet you will find yourself in court on the wrong end of a law suit seeking the manufacturer’s investment back with damages.