Senate Bill 482 (LLC Clarifications & Emp. Invention Ownership) is an important pro-jobs bill up for consideration in the N.C. Senate today. The bill, which the NC Chamber has put strong support behind this session, would clarify a number of changes to the Limited Liability Company Act to ensure North Carolina employers retain full ownership rights over intellectual property (IP) developed at their companies. Without a firm and stable foundation in law for the ownership of intellectual property, many talented researchers and innovative companies that would otherwise choose to locate in North Carolina would instead take their operations elsewhere. For this reason, the passage of Senate Bill 482 is an essential 2016 priority for ensuring North Carolina remains a leader in research and development.
In addition to its direct benefits on the business climate, Senate Bill 482 would add weight to a recent decision issued by the N.C. Supreme Court that brought more clarity to the state’s legal climate regarding employer intellectual property rights by overturning a previous Court of Appeals decision that would have set a bad legal precedent around this issue. Of primary concern in the case of Robert Paul Morris v Scenera Research, LLC and Ryan C. Fry was whether employers or employees should be granted rights of ownership over new inventions created by employees during normal business operations. The NC Chamber (along with the NC Association of Defense Attorneys and NC State University) filed an amicus brief in this case to argue that allowing the lower courts’ decision to stand would send a discouraging message about how North Carolina’s legal system treats business owners involved in intellectual property cases.
Such a message, of course, would have caused substantial harm to North Carolina’s competitive business climate. The NC Chamber was, therefore, extremely pleased with the outcome of the N.C. Supreme Court’s decision in this case. We have been equally pleased by the positive direction this issue has taken at the General Assembly this session and we are confident that elected leaders will act quickly to pass Senate Bill 482 into law. Let’s send a strong message to companies who might be looking to come to North Carolina that we give job creators who invest here the fairness and predictability they need to keep growing and innovating at the pace of business!
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber