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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I entered into a contract with a smartphone manufacturer regarding

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I entered into a contract with a smartphone manufacturer regarding my software idea and method. Before submitting my idea my previous ip attorney advised me that although the idea seemed useful it might not be unique enough to be granted a patent, so I didn't file a patent. The contract I entered with the smartphone manufacturer stated that compensation negotiations would be taken if the manufacturer decides to go further with my idea. The manufacturer sent me an email about a month after I submitted my idea and said they were not interested at the time. About 6 months later my idea is manufactured in multiple smartphones specifically from that manufacturer. I received no acknowledgement, communication, or compensation from the manufacturer. What legal action can I take from here? I am an idependent inventor and not affiliated with a business to help defend the contract and idea. Would it be likely to find an attorney willing to take the case on a contingency basis? Would this be more of a business related - breach of contract and breach of fidiciary duty case or would it be more related to infringing intellectual property rights even though I don't own patent rights?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be assisting you with your legal question.

Did the manufacturer sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement with you before you gave them the idea?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Zachary,

The manufacturer didn't sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement. The manufacturer only accepts ideas outside the company from a specific web domain. The company's idea submission domain explains that by submitting the idea to the manufacturer that you have entered into a legal agreement with them. "We do not require that the submitter obtain, or even to have applied for, a patent on an idea before submitting the idea. If a disclosure is made under the conditions recited herein, and "MANUFACTURER" is interested thereafter in further considering the idea, negotiations will be undertaken to try to arrive at terms which are equitable to both parties and will take care of the needs of the particular situation."

Thank you for your response.

There are some real problems here. Technically speaking, the manufacturer has not promised to actually do anything in return for your submitted idea. By submitting the idea, you have essentially given it to the manufacturer for nothing in return, and for no promise from them that they will not use it.

Your idea, unless it was capable of copyright protection, did not actually have any automatic intellectual property protection attached to it. This is why it is absolute standard practice to never turn over an idea that is not patented or copyrighted to another party without a non disclosure agreement.

So, you will have to argue that you were defrauded into giving up the confidential trade secret information (i.e., your idea) by the manufacturer's illusory promise to "negotiate" and "take care of the needs of the particular situation."

Can you provide me the website address for this manufacturer so I can review the terms myself and see if there is anything more there that might be useful?
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Above is the submission link for the manufacturer, which lists the terms of the agreement. Thank you so much for your feedback... it's very helpful.

It is a very illusory promise they are making. However, I think you have a claim that they did not honor their agreement to contact you and negotiate terms to use your idea. They simply took it and left you out to dry.

You should contact a local attorney to address the potential for taking on the claim, as if Motorola is using the idea on a large scale, and it is a novel idea that you came up with, then according to the terms of the agreement, you are owed some sort of acknowledgement.

Thank you for the rating.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you very much for the feedback... I really appreciate it.