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Should Inventions Be Automatically Owned By Your Employer? 291

An anonymous reader writes "Joshua Simmons authored an article for the N.Y.U. Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. The article is a comparison of the developments in copyright law and patent law in the nineteenth century that resulted in copyright law developing a work made for hire doctrine while patent law only developed a patch work of judge-made employment doctrines. The article theorizes that patent law did not develop an inventions made for hire doctrine, because inventive activity was almost exclusively perceived to be performed by individuals. It goes on to suggest that, as patentable inventions today are generally perceived to be invented collaboratively, the Patent Act should be amended to borrow from the Copyright Act and adopt a principle similar to the work made for hire doctrine."
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Should Inventions Be Automatically Owned By Your Employer?

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  • Re:Depends .... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @08:49PM (#42164639)

    If you're on the clock at work, then yes, it counts as a work/invention for hire.

    Nope. It's still yours in the U.S. Most employers who anticipate any inventing on the job require you to sign an agreement at the time of hire stating that everything you invent is theirs. Some of these agreements are very nice and cover job related stuff, others try to include unrelated stuff you think of in the shower. And even then, you have to sign paperwork to assign an individual invention to the company.

  • Re:irrelevant (Score:5, Informative)

    by thePig ( 964303 ) <rajmohan_h@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Sunday December 02, 2012 @09:57PM (#42165035) Journal

    Very true. I always wanted to be an inventor, and have now more than a few patents. My first few patents were taken by the company where I was working during that time - even though it had absolutely nothing in common with the work I was doing for them - even the domain was completely different.

    Primarily due to this, and partly due to the fact that they did not even implement the patent and try to sell it - rather they wanted the patents to bolster their resume when they went to their clients -, I left them and decided to work for my own. Started 2 companies till now, nothing has gone anywhere - but at least my patents are mine now.

    I consider these total takeover of any work done to be a big deterrent to innovation overall. If I am coming with an idea, it should be mine and mine only. I am being paid for the work they expect me to do in the company - not thinking of ideas of my own. The companies doesnt even pay well for those patents and then complain that they are not innovative etc. I do understand that a very small percentage of patents make money, but for an inventor, it is his baby - giving pennies for it is like insulting him.

  • Re:Depends .... (Score:5, Informative)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @11:18PM (#42165345)

    Wrong. Copyright exists from the moment of PUBLISHING.

    See here: []

    Works from 2002 to date.
    Any original works of authorship from 2002 to the present are automatically copyright protected from the moment of their creation. You may still register a copyright in order to establish the date of copyright protection and provide better protection against copyright infringement, but it's not necessary to register a copyright in order for a work to be protected.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday December 03, 2012 @12:19AM (#42165597) Journal
    I've never seen any "only while on the job" language in any contract. The language I see is more along the line of "as long as you are employed by XYZ, all your inventions are belong to us."

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll