NORTH DAKOTA

CHAPTER 9-14
INVENTION DEVELOPMENT SERVICES CONTRACTS
(As of December 1, 1998)

9-14-01. Definitions. As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
1. "Contract for invention development services" includes a contract by which an
invention developer undertakes to develop or promote an invention for a customer.
2. "Customer" means any individual who is solicited by, inquires about, seeks the
services of, or enters into a contract with an invention developer for invention
development services.
3. "Invention" includes a process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter,
improvement upon the foregoing, or a concept.
4. "Invention developer" means any person, and the agents, employees, or
representatives of the person, that develops or promotes or offers to develop or
promote an invention of a customer in order that the customer's invention may be
patented, licensed, or sold for manufacture or manufactured in large quantities,
except the term does not include:
a. A partnership, corporation, or limited liability company when all of its partners,
stockholders, or members are licensed by a state or the United States to render
legal advice concerning patents and trademarks, or a person so licensed.
b. A department or agency of federal, state, or local government.
c. A charitable, scientific, educational, religious, or other organization described in
section 170(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
d. An entity that does not charge a fee for invention development services.
e. An entity whose gross receipts from contracts for invention development
services do not exceed ten percent of its gross receipts from all sources during
the fiscal year preceding the year in which any contract for invention
development services is signed.
f. A partnership, corporation, or limited liability company that accepts technology
from institutions of higher education and other state and federal research
institutions for evaluation and the providing of marketing services.
For the purposes of this subsection, "fee" includes any payment made by the
customer to the entity, including reimbursements for expenditures made or costs
incurred by such entity, but does not include a payment made from a portion of the
income received by a customer by virtue of invention development services
performed by the entity.
5. "Invention development services" includes acts required or promised to be
performed, or actually performed, by an invention developer for a customer.




9-14-02. Notice to customers.
1. Every contract for invention development services must be in writing and is subject
to this chapter. A copy of each fully executed contract must be given to the
customer at the time the customer signs the contract.
2. If one or more contracts are contemplated by the invention developer in connection
with an invention or if the invention developer contemplates performance of services
in connection with an invention in more than one phase with the performance of
each phase covered in one or more contracts, the invention developer shall so state
in a written statement and shall supply to the customer the written statement
together with a copy of each contract or a written summary of the general terms of
each contract, including the total cost or consideration required from the customer,
before the customer signs the first contract.




 9-14-03. Right of cancellation.
1. Notwithstanding any contractual provision to the contrary, the customer has the
unconditional right to cancel a contract for invention development services for any
reason at any time before midnight of the third business day following the date the
invention developer and the customer sign the contract and the customer receives a
fully executed copy of it. Written notice of cancellation may be delivered personally
or by mail. If given by mail, the notice is effective upon placement in the possession
of the United States postal service, properly addressed and first-class postage
prepaid. Notice of cancellation need not take a particular form and is sufficient if it
indicates, by any form of written expression, the intention of the customer not to be
bound by the contract. Within ten business days after receipt of the notice of
cancellation, the invention developer shall deliver to the customer, personally or by
mail, all moneys paid, any note or other evidence of indebtedness, and all materials
provided by the customer.
2. Every contract for invention development services must contain the following
statement in ten-point boldface type immediately above the place where the
customer signs the contract:
The three-business-day period during which you may cancel this contract for
any reason by mailing or delivering written notice to the invention developer will
expire on (last date to mail or deliver notice). If you choose to mail your notice,
it must be placed in the United States mail addressed to (name of invention
developer), at (address of invention developer's place of business) with
first-class postage prepaid before midnight of this date. If you choose to
personally deliver your notice to the invention developer, it must be delivered to
the invention developer by five p.m. on this date.




9-14-04. Mandatory contract form.
1. A contract for invention development services must set forth the information required
in this section in at least ten-point type or equivalent size if handwritten.
2. The following disclosure statement must be in boldface type and must be located
conspicuously on a cover sheet that contains no other writing:
The following disclosures are required by law and are expressly made a part of
this contract: You have the right to cancel this contract for any reason at any
time within three business days from the date you and the invention developer
sign the contract and you receive a fully executed copy of it. To exercise this
option you need only mail or personally deliver to this invention developer
written notice of your cancellation. The method and time for notification is set
forth in this contract immediately above the place for your signature. Upon
cancellation, the invention developer must return by mail or personal delivery,
within ten business days after receipt of the cancellation notice, all money paid
and all materials provided either by you or by another party in your behalf.
Unless the invention developer is an attorney or patent agent registered with
the United States patent office, the invention developer is not permitted to give
you legal advice concerning patent, copyright, or trademark law or to advise
you of whether your idea or invention may be patentable or may be protected
under the patent, copyright, or trademark laws of the United States or any other
law.  No patent, copyright, or trademark protection will be acquired for you by the
invention developer or by this contract. Your
failure to inquire into the law governing patent, copyright, or trademark matters
may jeopardize your rights in your idea or invention both in the United States
and in foreign countries. Your failure to identify and investigate existing
patents, trademarks, or registered copyrights may place you in jeopardy of
infringing the copyrights, patent rights, or trademark rights of other persons if
you proceed to make, use, distribute, or sell your idea or invention.
3. The contract must describe fully and in detail the acts or services that the invention
developer contracts to perform for the customer.
4. The contract must state whether the invention developer contracts to construct one
or more prototypes, models, or devices embodying the customer's invention, the
number of such prototypes to be constructed, and whether the invention developer
contracts to sell or distribute such prototypes, models, or devices.
5. If an oral or written estimate of customer earnings is made, the contract must state
the estimate and the data upon which it is based.
6. In a single statement the contract must set forth both the total number of customers
who have contracted with the invention developer, except that the number need not
reflect those customers who have contracted within the last thirty days, and the
number of customers who have received, by virtue of the invention developer's
performance of invention development services, an amount of money in excess of
the amount of money paid by such customers to the invention developer pursuant to
a contract for invention development services.
7. The contract must state the expected date of completion of the invention
development services.
8. The contract must state whether and the extent to which it effectuates or makes
possible the purchase by the invention developer of an interest in the title to the
customer's invention.
9. The contract must explain that the invention developer is required to maintain all
records and correspondence relating to performance of the invention development
services for that customer for a period not less than three years after expiration of
the term of the contract for invention development services.
10. The contract must state that the records and correspondence required to be
maintained pursuant to section 9-14-08 will be made available to the customer or the
customer's representative for review and copying at the customer's expense on the
invention developer's premises during normal business hours upon seven days'
written notice, the time period to begin from the date the notice is placed in the
United States mail properly addressed and first-class postage prepaid.
11. The contract must state the name of the person or firm contracting to perform the
invention development services, all names under which said person or firm is doing
or has done business as an invention developer during the previous ten years, the
names of all parent and subsidiary companies to the firm, and the name of all
companies that have a contractual obligation to the firm to perform invention
development services.
12. The contract must state the invention developer's principal business address and the
name and address of its agent in this state authorized to receive service of process
in this state.




9-14-05. Disclosures made prior to contract.
1. In either the first written communication from the invention developer to a specific
customer or at the first personal meeting between the invention developer and a
customer, whichever occurs first, the invention developer shall make a written
disclosure to the customer of the information required in this section.
2. The disclosure must state the median fee charged to all of the invention developers'
customers who have signed contracts with the developer in the preceding six
months, excluding customers who have signed in the preceding thirty days.
3. The disclosure must include a single statement setting forth the total number of
customers who have contracted with the invention developer, except that the
number need not reflect those customers who have contracted within the preceding
thirty days, and the number of customers who have received by virtue of the
invention developer's performance of invention development services an amount of
money in excess of the amount of money paid by those customers to the invention
developer pursuant to a contract for invention development services.
4. The disclosure must include a single statement setting forth the names of all
individuals and entities that possess an ownership interest in the invention developer
and have held or presently hold more than a ten percent ownership interest in any
other invention developer. The statement must include for each individual and entity
the information required to be disclosed by subsection 3.
5. The disclosure must contain the following statement:
Unless the invention developer is an attorney or patent agent registered with
the United States patent office, the invention developer is not permitted to give
you legal advice concerning patent, copyright, or trademark law or to advise
you of whether your idea or invention may be patentable or may be protected
under the patent rights, copyright, or trademark laws of the United States or any
other law.
No patent, copyright, or trademark protection will be acquired for you by the
invention developer. Your failure to inquire into the law governing patent,
copyright, or trademark matters may jeopardize your rights in your idea or
invention, both in the United States and in foreign countries. Your failure to
identify and investigate existing patents, trademarks, or registered copyrights
may place you in jeopardy of infringing the copyrights, patent rights, or
trademark rights of other persons if you proceed to make, use, distribute, or sell
your idea or invention.
6. If the invention developer provides invention development services involving the
evaluation of inventions, the disclosure must include a statement setting forth the
percentage of evaluated inventions that have been successfully marketed or
licensed by the invention developer. If the invention developer does not provide
invention development services involving the evaluation of inventions, the disclosure
must inform the customer that there is considerable risk involved in proceeding with
the development and promotion of the invention without an evaluation and must
further recommend that the customer obtain an evaluation of the invention by an
evaluation source. The disclosure must contain the following statement:
It is likely that no more than two percent and probably less than one percent of
all inventions are successfully developed and promoted. You should evaluate
your chances of success accordingly and not rely solely on the opinion of an
invention developer.




9-14-06. Financial requirements.
1. Every invention developer rendering or offering to render invention development
services in this state shall maintain a bond issued by a surety company authorized to
do business in this state, and equal to either ten percent of the invention developer's
gross income from the invention development business in this state during the
invention developer's preceding fiscal year, or twenty-five thousand dollars,
whichever is larger. A copy of the bond must be approved by the attorney general
and filed with the secretary of state before the invention developer renders or offers
to render invention development services in this state. The invention developer has
ninety days after the end of each fiscal year within which to change the bond as may
be necessary to conform to the requirements of this subsection.
2. The bond required by subsection 1 must be in favor of the state of North Dakota for
the benefit of any person who, after entering into a contract for invention
development services with an invention developer, is damaged by fraud or
dishonesty of the invention developer in performance of the contract, by the
insolvency or the cessation of business by the invention developer, or by the
intentional violation of this chapter by the invention developer. Any person claiming
against the bond may maintain a claim for relief against the invention developer and
the surety company.
The aggregate liability of the surety company to all persons for all breaches of
conditions of the bond may not exceed the amount of the bond.
3. In lieu of the bond required by subsection 1, the invention developer may deposit
with the Bank of North Dakota a cash deposit in the like amount. The Bank of North
Dakota may not refund a deposit until sixty days after either the invention developer
has ceased doing business in the state or a bond has been filed which complies with
subsections 1 and 2.




9-14-07. Restriction on use of negotiable instruments. In connection with a contract
for invention development services, the invention developer may not take from a customer a
negotiable instrument other than a check as evidence of the obligation of the customer. A holder
is not a holder in due course if the holder takes a negotiable instrument taken from a customer in
violation of this section.




9-14-08. Records. Every invention developer shall maintain all records and
correspondence relating to performance of each invention development contract for a period of
not less than three years after expiration of the term of the contract.




9-14-09. Remedies and enforcement.
1. The provisions of this chapter are not exclusive and do not relieve the parties or the
contract from compliance with all other applicable laws.
2. Any contract for invention development services that does not comply with the
applicable provisions of this chapter is unenforceable against the customer as
contrary to public policy; provided, that no contract is unenforceable if the invention
developer proves that noncompliance was unintentional and resulted from a bona
fide error in spite of the developer's use of reasonable procedures adopted to avoid
any such errors, and if the developer makes an appropriate correction.
3. Any contract for invention development services entered into by a customer with an
invention developer who has used any fraud, false pretense, false promise,
misrepresentation, misleading statement, or deceptive practice in respect to that
customer with the intent that the customer rely thereon, whether or not the customer
was in fact misled, deceived, or damaged, is unenforceable against the customer.
4. Any waiver by the customer of the provisions of this chapter is contrary to public
policy and is void and unenforceable.
5. Any person who has been injured by a violation of this chapter by an invention
developer, by any false or fraudulent statement, representation, or omission of
material fact by an invention developer or by failure of an invention developer to
make all the disclosures required by this chapter may bring a civil action against the
invention developer for the damages sustained together with costs and
disbursements, including reasonable attorney's fees. The court in its discretion may
increase the award of damages to an amount not to exceed three times the
damages sustained.
6. Failure to make the disclosures required by section 9-14-05 renders any contract
subsequently entered into between the customer and the invention developer
voidable by the customer.


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