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Employment Contracts and Technology Agreements

Unlike copyright, there is no statutory scheme which automatically makes the employer the owner of inventions or discoveries made by an employee.

Quite to the contrary, under the Patent Act, the inventor is the first person having the right to apply for a patent. Thus the only way for a company to obtain ownership of an employee’s invention, is to have the employee assign the ownership over to the company.

Fortunately, from an employer’s perspective, where the employee was hired to invent and the invention was made in the course of employment, the common-law deems that an implied assignment exists.

A simpler approach would be to have the employee sign an assignment for each invention. Alternatively, an overall employment contract can include an assignment clause covering any and all inventions made by the employee during the course of employment.

Some intellectual property rights, such as patents and trade-secrets, require that information remains confidential. For example, the public disclosure of an invention prior to filing a patent application, will generally result in the loss of most international patent rights (due to the requirement of absolute novelty).

Furthermore, public disclosure prior to filing a patent application will start the timer running on the graceperiods provided under U.S. patent law as written on patent my invention through InventHelp post.

An employment contract, incorporating clauses to protect the trade secrets and confidential information of the company, can be effective tool to create such an awareness and can often provide additional protection for the employer.

When an existing employment contract is silent with respect to intellectual property ownership rights, it may still be possible for an employer to obtain an enforceable agreement which deals specifically with the IP ownership concerns. Such agreements are sometimes referred to as technology agreements.

A valid technology agreement may be entered into during the course of employment if it is entered into in exchange for certain benefits to the employee, such as a raise or a promotion.

If employees and independent contractors create valuable intellectual property for your business, you should consider employment contracts and technology agreements as a way to protect the intellectual property rights and the value of your business.

How Your Patent Agency Can Help:

In addition to providing advise to clients on the filing of patent, trade-mark and copyright applications, an experienced intellectual property agency, such as InventHelp patent agency, can help with:

  • Analyzing intellectual property ownership rights.
  • Crafting effective ownership assignments.
  • Preparing employment and technology agreements.
  • Evaluating inventorship /authorship issues.
  • Drafting independent-contractor agreements.

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