The CompanieBee Blog follows the fictional life sciences start-up company “CompanieBee.” The story follows the founders as they formulate the company’s strategy and product plans.  The blog explores the IP issues and dilemmas that arise as the company progresses forward.

CompanieBee and the characters in this blog are entirely fictional.  This story is intended to raise issues in your thinking process, but this blog does not offer legal advice.  Legal issues are fact and circumstance-specific and you should consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction if you are seeking legal advice on your issues.

We join the fictional CompanieBee in the early days . . .

It was an exciting day when they pushed open the door to the warehouse space and looked at the assortment of lab equipment that had already been delivered. Each arrived with their favorite morning beverage of choice, a latte for Elle, mint tea for Jan and strong black coffee for Vijay.

The start to this day marked a transition for each of them. Vijay had recently taken a leave of absence from his university professorship.  He had been running a research lab for the last 10 years looking into drug mechanisms for treating multiple sclerosis.  It had been rewarding but he wanted to take a more application focused, less basic research approach, thus the move to the new start-up company.

Elle was making a similar move, from a slightly different perspective. She had also been at the university and just finished up her PhD thesis on drug BXC and its mechanism in reacting with cells.  She was a star student and had generated a number of well-recognized publications during her graduate work. Enthusiastic about Vijay’s new direction, she agreed to join the company right after finishing her degree.

Jan was making a different transition.  She had been working for a large pharmaceutical company for the last 5 years.  Wanting a bit more freedom and flexibility in research direction, she began looking for other options.  When she met Vijay at a research conference last spring, the opportunity to join together to form a new company seemed perfect.

Now that the three had come together as CompanieBee, it was time to roll up their sleeves and get to work.  They had landed a small space in a life sciences incubator – with wet lab space as well as some desk areas.  The initial equipment was in place and they had begun on some initial experiments that built upon what Vijay and Elle had been working on at the university.

With their beverages in hand, the three researchers headed for the table in the center of the room which Vijay had designated for their morning “think sessions.” They had agreed that their new start-up would benefit from short brainstorming sessions and problem solving each morning before embarking on their individual tasks.  Today’s topic was aimed at the design of their new diagnostic assay that would be used as a companion diagnostic for clinical trials and eventually patient monitoring with drug BXC.

Elle put forth her sketches of what she thought would be the best assay design, and the reagents that they would use.  Jan piped up immediately. Her previous position at DiagnosticsRus had been working on a similar assay method before she left to join the start up.  “That second step won’t work” she noted, “we tried that at DiagnsticsRus and it failed.”  So best to change direction now, she advised.  With that guidance, Elle modified the design.

Several months later . . . 

The morning think session had an additional participant – CompanieBee’s IP attorney Daniella.  The startup was ready to file its first patent application. Daniella listened to the description of the assay, its purpose and the various steps the assay would require.  She began to sketch out some ideas for a patent strategy on the assay and potentially broader ideas and uses.  She asked a number of questions on where the ideas originated, who did what in the development of the assay and what records they had kept.

Food for thought:

  • Who are the inventors for this first application?
  • Will CompanieBee own all the rights to the patent or does the prior employment of the inventors create any issues?
  • Has Jan’s advice in designing the assay misappropriated a trade secret from her prior employer?

Stay tuned for the next episode!