In 1990, David Barstow was pursuing a dream. By day, he wrote computer code for the oil and gas drilling operations of his employer Schlumberger Technology Corp. At night and on weekends, he worked with his brother Daniel on a very different project: software that would produce computer simulations of live sporting events.
As the years passed, the brothers' continuing work seemed to be successful, and they ultimately received four patents on their technology.
DDB appealed and got a slightly better result from the Federal Circuit.
A three-judge panel ruled in February that DDB's suit should not be tossed out yet, saying it was too soon to decide that David had assigned the patents to Schlumberger. Extrinsic evidence was needed to determine whether the patents at issue were "related to" or "suggested by" David's work for Schlumberger, the court ruled. And the parties' views at the time the inventions were created were "highly relevant, if not dispositive" of this issue, the court held.