Can an Employee own an invention? Part I

The next three articles will take a look at the issues which surround the ownership of a patent, where the subject matter of which was invented by an employee.

Patent law similar to the approach in copyright holds that in certain circumstances it is the employer who owns the patent to an invention created by the employee. The Patent Act 1977 (the Act) sections 39-43 regulate how ownership of a patent is dealt with.

Section 39 of the Act states that the employer owns the patent when the employee invents the subject matter was created in the normal course of employment or when the employee was specifically employed to invent and the invention was made where it is reasonable to expect that such an invention would be made.

Section 39 of the Act also provides that when those a person in a senior position created the subject matter, the employer owns the patent. This is because section 39(1)(b), this section holds that people in these positions are taken to be under a special obligation to further the interests of the employer.

In the next article we take a look at section 39 in more detail.

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