If one of our employees invents something, who owns it?

Generally, in the absence of an express agreement, the only instances where your company may have a right to or an interest in the invention and any patent acquired for it are:
  1. Where the employee has been specifically designated or employed to invent a specific thing and does so at your company's expense, title to the invention and to the patent becomes the property of your company; or
  2. Where the employee has not been specifically designated or employed to invent a specific thing, but the invention is made on company time and with the company's tools and materials, your company acquires what is known as "shop rights." Those shop rights entitle the company to make, use and sell the invention in the conduct of its business, though it cannot prevent the employee from securing a valid patent and even peddling the invention to a competitor; or
  3. Where the employee permits your company to use the invention without any reservation as to the employee's rights, this may constitute a constructive or implied license to the company to make and use the invention even outside the scope of its business.

Last update on December 9, 2009 by Administrator.

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