TechGaurdJames Joyce (no, not the author) learned the hard way that selecting your form of business and assigning ownership are crucial steps in promoting an invention.  Mr. Joyce invented a new computer firewall and granted an exclusive license in the patent to TechGuard Security LLC, which was owned by Mr. Joyce and his wife.  Mr. Joyce agreed that TechGuard Security would pay him no royalty for the license.  The wife was given a controlling interest in the corporation so that the corporation could qualify for preference in government contracting.

Mr. Joyce and his wife subsequently divorced.  The wife is now CEO of TechGuard, which still holds the exclusive license to the patent rights and still does not pay Mr. Joyce a royalty.  Mr. Joyce is unhappy with his lawyers, who represented both Mr. Joyce and TechGuard at the same time.   The bottom line:  (a) remember that relationships can change over time; and, (b) make sure that both you and your lawyer understand who your lawyer represents.  See Joyce v Armstrong Teasdale, No. 10-1362 (8th Cir. March 29, 2011).

— Robert Yarbrough, Esq.