creditcard.jpgOrange County – Twitter co-founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey has filed suit over the patent rights to Square, a device that Time Magazine named as one of the Top 50 Inventions in 2010.  Jim McKelvey, a glassblowing artist turned entrepreneur has joined Dorsey in the lawsuit against Robert Morley, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Washington University.

Square is a small, portable, plug-in device that enables users to accept credit cards anywhere by offering a plug-in credit card reader that is compatible with iPads, iPhones and Android phones.  Users are charged a fee of 2.75% on credit card transactions.

McKelvey is claiming that it was he, not Morley, who originally thought of the idea for Square.  He said it was to assist with credit card sales at his own business, Third Degree Glass Factory.  Morley who owns sole rights to the Square patent technology argues that he developed the technology himself without any help from McKelvey.

This case alleges both copyright and patent infringement.  A patent protects a novel invention whereas a copyright protects an original work of authorship.  In the case of the Square patent, McKelvey will have to bring a lot of evidence to the table.  He will have to prove that his own independent ideas were involved in the invention of the technology because patent inventorship is a legal question.  It could turn out that the parties are co-inventors.