Florida Statute § 501.972 serves as a statute of frauds of sorts for disputes arising out of using someone else’s idea. While many may not have heard of this statute before, the first Court opinion dealing with it was released from the Middle District of Florida last week. The statute itself provides :
501. 972 Actions based upon use of a creation that is not protected under federal copyright law.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), the use of an idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, discovery, thought, or other creation that is not a work of authorship protected under federal copyright law does not give rise to a claim or cause of action, in law or in equity, unless the parties to the claim or cause of action have executed a writing sufficient to indicate that a contract has been made between them governing such use.
(2) Subsection (1) does not affect or limit:
(a) Any cause of action based in copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret; or
(b) Any defense raised in connection with a cause of action described in paragraph (2).
An engineer sued BP, claiming BP had used a couple of the engineer’s ideas in trying to stop the oil leak after the Deepwater explosion. BP sought summary judgment under this Florida Statute, arguing there was no writing signed by BP, and thus the Plaintiff had no claim. The Court agreed, granting summary judgment to BP.
I’ve written more about it here. The case is Kaminski v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., Case No. 8:12-cv-826 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 24, 2013) (J. Bucklew).