Contracts for Engineers

Contracts for Engineers: Intellectual Property, Standards, and Ethics

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Features

  • Introduces seemingly diverse contract concepts that engineers must understand
  • Provides background on common law contracts and their relationship to sales contracts in the Uniform Commercial Code
  • Discusses typical terms of employee agreements, as well as information on government contracts
  • Explains examples of ethics for both individuals and organizations
  • Includes a list of key figures and tables

Summary

Engineers encounter different types of contracts at nearly every turn in their careers. Contracts for Engineers: Intellectual Property, Standards, and Ethics is a tool to enhance their ability to communicate contractual issues to lawyers—and then better understand the legal advice they receive.

Building on its exploration of contracts, this book expands discussion to:

  • Patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual property issues
  • Development of standards and the bodies that govern them, as well as conformity assessment and accreditation
  • Ethics at both the micro and macro levels—a concept under major scrutiny after several major disasters, including the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the collapse of Boston’s Big Dig, and a coal-mining accident that resulted in many deaths

With a brief introduction to common law contracts and their underlying principles, including basic examples, the book presents a sample of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) regarding the sale of goods. It evaluates elements of the different contracts that engineers commonly encounter, such as employee and associated consulting agreements and contracts involved in construction and government.

Approaching intellectual property from a contract perspective, this reference focuses on the many different types of patents and their role in commerce. It touches on the application of trademarks and recent developments in the use of copyright as a form of contract and explains the process of obtaining patents, including the rationale for investing in them. Ethical standards receive special attention, which includes a review of several prominent professional codes of ethics and conduct for both organizations and individual engineers, particularly officers and higher-level managers.

Table of Contents

Common Law Contracts

Definition of Common Law Contract

Statute of Frauds

Parties (Natural Persons)

Parties (Artificial Persons)

Classification of Contracts

Purposes (Subject Matter) of Contract

Consideration

Promissory Estoppel

Valid, Void, Voidable, and Unenforceable Contracts

Contract Formation Process (Offer and Acceptance)

Offer


Acceptance


Time of Contract Creation

More Complex Negotiated Contracts

Incomplete Agreements

Integrated Agreements


Mistakes, Mutual Mistakes, Fraud, and Duress


Compact Summary of Case: Austin Instrument v. Loral Corp. Court of Appeals of New York, 1971 (Based on Published Decision)

Standardized Agreements as Integrated Agreements

Contents of the Resulting Contract

Performance

Unconscionable Clauses and Contracts

Breach of Contract


Contracting on the Web

Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN)

Summary

Additional Reading

 

Sales Contracts under the Uniform Commercial Code

Introduction

UCC Distinguishes between Agreement and Contract

Statute of Frauds under the UCC

Parties to UCC Contracts

Firm Offers and Acceptance

Incomplete Agreements

Integrated Agreements

Interpretation of Integrated Agreements, including Duress (Coercion)

Performance

Substantial Performance and Excused Performance

Unconscionable Contract or Clause

Breach of Contract and Remedies for Breach

Contracting on the Web

Compact Summary of Case: ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg, United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1986

United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)

Summary

References

 

Contracts of Special Interest to Engineers

Introduction

Employment Agreements


Private Sector Construction Contracts


Federal Government Contracts


Compact Summary of Case: Bonneville Associates, Limited Partnership, et al., Petitioners v. David J. Barram, Administrator, General Services Administration—On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (No. 98-1688 in the Supreme Court of the United States)

 

Intellectual Property: Emphasis on Patents

Introduction

Patent as Contract

Patent as a Grant

Organization and Functions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Utility Patents


Modern Development of Patent Law

Patent Reform

Origin of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Patenting of Life Forms

Computer Programs and Business Methods

Infringement

Shop Right

Anatomy of a U.S. Utility Patent

Plant Patents

Design Patents

Compact Summary of Case: Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., 376

U.S. 225 (1964)

Patent Clauses in Government Contracts


Business Reasons for Applying for a Patent

References


Additional Reading

 

Patent Processes

Introduction

Starting the Process

Making the Decisions to File and How to File

Prosecution of Application as Contract Negotiation

Provisional Application for Patent

Divisional Applications

Final Rejection

Continuation or Continuation-in-Part Applications

Abandonment, Voluntary and Involuntary

Issue of Patent and Possible Extension of Term

Reexamination of Patents

Promotion and Exploitation of a Patent

Sale of a Patent

Licensing of a Patent

Licensing in Patent Pools

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Litigation

References

 

Copyright

Introduction

Copyright as Contract

Compact Summary of Case: Eric Eldred et al., Petitioners v. John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General (No. 01-618). Argued October 9, 2002; decided January 15, 2000

Survey of Copyright Law in Title 17 U.S.C


Additional Notes on Copyright and Computer Programs Collected Algorithms from ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)


Survey of Noncopyright Law in Title 17


Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 27.4—Rights in Data and Copyrights

 

Trade Secrets

Introduction

Basic Legal Requirements

Contractual Nature of Trade Secrets

Historical Overview

Uniform Trade Secrets Act

A Departing Employee Action

Economic Espionage Act

Public Disclosures of Trade Secrets

Disclosure by Publication, Other Media, or Speeches, etc.

Reverse Engineering

Policy and Management Issues in Trade Secrets

Options for Selecting Trade Secret versus Other Forms of IP

Protection

Use and Abuse of Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Compact Summary of Case: Smith v. Dravo Corp., No. 10683, United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit, April 10, 1953

References

 

Trademarks

Introduction

Definitions of the Marks (15 U.S.C. 1127)


Selection and Use of Mark

Registration and Use of Marks

Confusing Similarity

Examination of Marks in the PTO

Infringement of Mark

Maintenance and Policing of Marks

Secondary Meaning and Trade Dress

Compact Summary of Case: Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., Supreme Court of the United States, 505 U.S. 763 (1992)

Cybersquatting on Internet Domain Names

Foreign Country Trademarks

Practical Trademark Issues in the European Union

 

Standards, Codes, and Regulations

Introduction

Aims of Standards

Types of Standards


Quality of Standards

International Standards

Regional Standards


National Standards

Company Standards

Typical Format of a Standard


Access to Standards

Codes

Regulations

 

Standards Bodies and Their Products

Introduction

Overview of International Standards Bodies

Apex International Standards Bodies (ISO, IEC, ITU)


Regional Standards Bodies


Council for Harmonization of Electrotechnical Standards of the Nations of the Americas (CANENA)


National Standards Bodies

Traditional Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs)


Consortia Standards Bodies


Summary

References

 

Development of Standards, Codes, and Regulations

Introduction

Development of Standards by Conventional Bodies (SDOs)

Compact Summary of Case: Allied Tube and Conduit Corp. v. Indian Head, Inc.

Due Process in Standard Setting


ISO/IEC Standards Development Rules


Standards Process in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Common Patent Policy for ISO/IEC/ITU

Consortia Methods of Standard Setting


Development of Codes

Development of Federal Regulations in the United States

Development of Regional Regulations in the European Union (EU)

 

Conformity Assessment

Introduction

Conformity Assessment Technology and Skills

Private Sector Conformity Assessment Bodies in the United States

Compact Summary of Case: American Society of Mechanical Engineers v. Hydrolevel, Inc. 456 U.S. 556 (1982)

Federal Conformity Assessment in the United States


Conformity Assessment in International Trade


Regional Approaches to Conformity Assessment

References

 

Accreditation

Introduction

Federal Accreditation Systems in the United States

Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) Program

National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP)

National Voluntary Conformity Assessment Systems Evaluation (NVCASE)

Private Accreditation Bodies in the United States

ANSI and the ANSI−ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB)

American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA)

International Accreditation Bodies

Regional Accreditation Bodies

References

 

Ethics for Individual Engineers

Introduction

IEEE Code of Ethics

National Society of Professional Engineers: Code of Ethics for Engineers


Texas Engineering Practice Act and Rules (Effective June 13, 2010)

Subchapter C: Professional Conduct and Rules


Compact Summary of Case: Expert Witness Appears in Court of Another Jurisdiction

Standards Engineering Society (SES) Code of Ethics


Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Code of Ethics for UL Standards Technical Panel (STP) Members


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Software

Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice


Principles


Applications of the IEEE/ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Practice

References

Other Resources on Ethics

 

Ethics for Organizations

Introduction

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (as Amended)

Compact Summary of Case: Kirkpatrick Co. v. Environmental Tectonics Corp., 493 U.S. 400 (1990), Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit No. 87-2066


ENRON


BP/Deepwater Horizon Blowout in the Gulf of Mexico


BP’s Role in the Accident


Transocean’s Role

Halliburton’s Role

Role of Cameron International

Role of the Regulator: The Minerals Management Service (MMS)

Summary of the Deepwater Horizon Accident


Excerpts from the National Oil Spill Commission Report

Organizational Ethics for Government Contractors

References

Additional Reading

 

Appendix 1: United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

Appendix 2: The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC of America) Summaries of American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and the Engineering Joint Contracts Documents Committee (EJCDC) Standardized Contracts for Engineering Projects

Appendix 3: Title 48, Code of Federal Regulations—Federal Acquisition Regulations System

Appendix 4: Outline of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

Appendix 5: ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

Author Bio(s)

Robert D. (Bob) Hunter, PE, lives in Austin, Texas. For more than 30 years, he has been involved in standards, conformity assessment, and accreditation as a company employee and as a consultant to several technical and computer companies. A recipient of the IEEE Centennial Medal, Bob served on standards committees at both national and international levels. He has written and lectured on standards-related subjects and in his major fields of interest, including regulatory compliance, intellectual property, electromagnetic compatibility, product safety, and other technical subjects. Hunter served on the Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which developed one of the first national standards (UL 1950) based on an International Standard (IEC 60950). Bob obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Drexel University in 1959 and 1962, respectively, and taught electrical engineering subjects at Drexel Evening College. He served as a quality control engineer and as a patent engineering specialist before becoming involved in regulatory compliance engineering.

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