Press Release May 01, 2012

IBM IP Rights Case

Goodwin Procter attorneys obtained a significant victory for client IBM in Picture Patents v. Aeropostale in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit summarily affirmed a district court ruling that, under IBM’s employee agreement regarding intellectual property rights, IBM owns patents obtained by an employee after leaving IBM. More than one million current and former IBM employees have signed the IP rights agreement.

The district court determined that the IP rights agreement “clearly applie[d]” to the invention and the corresponding patents because the inventor, Michelle Baker, conceived of the invention while employed at IBM and “the Invention ‘relate[d] to the actual or anticipated business or research or development of IBM.’” The district court held that, under the IP rights agreement, ownership in the patents vested in IBM.