Bacon is delightful. And the similarly savory subject of who must be named inventor on a bacon patent was the issue in the recent case of HIP, Inc. v. Hormel Foods Corp., No. 2022-1696 (Fed. Cir. May 2, 2023). HIP claimed that one of its employees materially contributed to the invention of Hormel’s patent on methods for precooking bacon. The question of what makes one an “inventor” was central to whether HIP’s employee should be added to the patent. More broadly, questions about inventorship and authorship have become central to recent commentary and speculation about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property law. While AI did not factor into HIP v. Hormel, the decision provides a useful reminder about the role of the common law in developing answers to these momentous questions.
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