Blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts—these obscure terms began flooding the news a few years ago and for good reason. These are technologies with the potential to fundamentally change the way in which society performs its business transactions.
There is a latent conflict between the law of employee invention assignment contracts and the Copyright Act’s work for hire doctrine. Countless employees sign contracts specifying that, in most cases, the employer will own trade secrets and patentable inventions, as well as copyrightable works. When employees create in the workplace, these rules are largely uncontroversial. But when employees create something outside the workplace for a new venture, there can be a conflict between these two areas of intellectual property law.
By Caroline Epstein*
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by Catherine Riley*
A pdf version of this article may be downloaded here.