A former employee has a duty to assign patent rights to his former employer if he was hired to invent or to solve a particular problem, even if he never signed an employment agreement, the Colorado Court of Appeals held Jan. 20 (Scott System Inc. v. Scott, Colo. Ct. App., No. 98CA2402, 1/20/00).

For more than 12 years, William C. Scott III and Mark A. Scott worked for their father’s company, Scott System Inc. Both served as directors and officers but neither ever signed an employment agreement. William developed an invention while employed at Scott System. Both eventually left to work for a competitor, Innovative Brick Systems. Scott System filed suit against IBS and the brothers, alleging that the brothers improperly used trade secrets and refused to assign patent rights to the invention in violation of their fiduciary duty and an implied contract. Except as to trade secrets, the trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants. Scott System appealed.