LETTER Assembly OKs Russo bill protecting intellectual property rights for inventors

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Legislation revising New Jersey’s inventor-rights laws, sponsored by Assemblyman David Russo, was approved today by the General Assembly.

The legislation (A492) protects an employee’s rights to their own inventions when it is unrelated to their job and created without using their employer’s resources. Employment contracts can allow an employer to acquire the rights of any employee invention.

“New Jersey’s standing as a leader of innovation is galvanized by improved intellectual property rights for inventors,” said Russo (R—Bergen). “Scientists and engineers may be reluctant to pursue some projects, fearing an employer will claim ownership.”

The bill also limits how long a company can consider an employee’s voluntary offer to acquire the rights to only nine months. According to a survey of electrical engineers, 70 percent report their ideas have been rejected by employers who hold the rights, effectively locking them away forever under burdensome employment pacts.

““Inventions don’t put people to work until they are fully developed and implemented,” Russo said. “Innovation required to compete in today’s global environment cannot happen if ideas can be smothered by companies that lack the interest or capital to develop them.”

Similar inventor-rights laws have been adopted in four states: California, Washington, Delaware and North Carolina

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