Licensing Model: Joint Copyright Assignments

John Cowan cowan at
Tue Apr 15 04:03:24 UTC 2003

Lawrence E. Rosen scripsit:

> I'm dealing with a similar assignment issue right now for a client.
> He's got a patent that he co-invented with another person.  The law
> requires that, in order to pursue a patent infringement claim (which has
> recently become necessary), he must have the cooperation of his
> co-inventor.

Interesting.  What would have happened to your client if the co-inventor
could not be found?

> We would never have expected the co-inventor to have
> assigned his rights way back when, before anyone understood the possible
> importance of the patent.  The negotiated value of the patent assignment
> is based on the current state of affairs.  

The key point is "negotiated value".  The copyright ownership is the
right to sue, and it has zero value to me as an open-source developer, since
I can't afford to sue anybody.  Therefore, it serves my interest to
transfer it to anyone willing to undertake the effort of policing the
copyright.  Obviously, I want to transfer the copyright to someone I
trust not to abuse the license.

John Cowan               cowan at
To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all.  There
are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language
that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful.
        --_The Hobbit_
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