Q: If I am inventor on a patent owned by the corporation I work for and the patent gets licensed, am I entitled to paymnt?
I live in the state of Delaware and am an inventor on a patent owned by my company (they are a non-profit and they applied for the patent; I did the work during my employment with them). The patent is going to be licensed by a company. I want to know whether I have legal grounds for compensation (single payment, royalties, etc) and if so, how that amount is determined.
You've asked an important question, that comes up often with employees, and the answer is somewhat complicated.
In their employment agreements, many employers these days require new employees to assign any and all rights to their new inventions to the company. They also typically require employees to identify their inventions preexisting the employer-employee relationship, to draw a boundary between what is the employee's versus what will belong to the company once the relationship commences. These requirements are especially true for tech company employees, where innovations are an important part of the company's business model.
If no such agreements are in place, you have to look at the applicable laws in the employment state, and sometimes in the employer's headquarters state or the employee's state. States typically have "shop rights" that provide rights, such as outright ownership or some kind of license to newly created inventions by employees to their employers, especially if the invention was created during work hours. An example may be a royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable license to use the invention afforded to the company. It's all state-dependent.
You should speak to a lawyer about this issue.
Erik Špila agrees with this answer
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