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Volume 49, Issue No 1 (Summer 2020)

There are a number of instances in which an inventor may have his or her own prior art cited against them, either during prosecution of a patent application or during enforcement of an issued patent. The inventor himself likely will not tell the patent attorney about such prior art. Therefore, the diligent attorney will want to raise the issue with the client at the time the application is being drafted or filed.

Statutory developments beginning in the 1990s have impacted the analysis of fiduciary duties in the Texas business organizations context. The duties of general partners are now defined by statutory provisions that delineate the duties without referring to them as “fiduciary” duties and specifically provide that partners shall not be held to the standard of a trustee. Whether limited partners in a limited partnership have fiduciary duties is not well-settled, but the Texas Business Organizations Code (BOC) clarifies that a limited partner does not owe the duties of a general partner solely by reason of being a limited partner. While the fiduciary duties of directors are still principally defined by common law, various provisions of the corporate statutes are relevant to the application of fiduciary-duty concepts in the corporate context. Because limited liability companies (LLCs) are a relatively recent phenomenon and the Texas LLC statutes do not specify duties of managers and members, there is some uncertainty with regard to the duties in this area, but the LLC statutes allude to or imply the existence of duties, and managers in a manager-managed LLC and members in a member-managed LLC should expect to be held to fiduciary duties similar to the duties of corporate directors or general partners. In each type of entity, the governing documents may vary (at least to some extent) the duties and liabilities of managerial or governing persons. The power to define duties, eliminate liability, and provide for indemnification is addressed somewhat differently in the statutes governing the various forms of business entities.