Two engineers employed by Vision in its New Research and Engineering Group invented a new card device that will allow hotel guests to more readily and securely access their hotel rooms. One of the engineers worked in Vision’s Atlanta office and one worked in the Boston office. The Boston employee contributed far more to the invention than did the Atlanta employee. The two individuals never met each other, although they often talked on the telephone and sent e-mail communications to each other. Neither signed any agreement with Vision regarding ownership of any inventions. One of the individuals has left Vision’s employment and cannot be located. Vision also owns a patent for a device that schedules golf tee times and alerts hotel guests accordingly. Vision would like to enter into an arrangement whereby it would allow other golf courses to use the invention. Finally, Vision would like to borrow a great deal of money to finance expansion of its hotels. The lender is insisting on obtaining security for any loan.
Activities. Discuss ownership of the card device and whether a patent application can be filed when one of the inventors cannot be located. Are the two individuals who worked on the card joint inventors? Discuss. What arrangements should Vision enter into with regard to the tee-time scheduling invention and obtaining new funding for planned expansion? What documents will be recorded with the USPTO and why?