Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2002

Abstract

In its Seventy-First Session, the Nevada Legislature enacted a new statute, S. B. 558, granting employers complete ownership of any work-related inventions created by their employees, regardless of whether the employer contributed any resources whatsoever to the inventive process. This stunning reversal of longstanding common law was little noticed by the public, and was debated only superficially in the state legislature before receiving its overwhelming vote of approval.

This Article examines Nevada's new employee invention statute from the perspectives of common law and public policy. It compares Nevada's new statute with the traditional common law rules governing employee inventions, as well as with the statutory schemes developed in other states. The analysis leads to the conclusion that Nevada's statute is unique, in that it deprives employees of their common law rights, whereas other states have, at a minimum, preserved those rights, and, in many cases, have enhanced those rights through pro-employee legislation. Although the ostensible purpose of S.B. 558 was to attract more high-technology businesses to Nevada, the new law is unlikely to achieve the economic objectives articulated in its legislative history. On the contrary, it is likely to exact substantial social and economic costs by depriving Nevada's technological innovators of the fruits of their creative efforts while increasing the volume of commercial litigation in Nevada's courts.

Publication Citation

3 Nev. L.J. 88 (2002).