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Payback for Patents

04/27/2007 1:33 PM

Just a thought, but I have read that they are actually starting to pay Engineers in Japan for patents developed while at work. I have a patent developed here at work, and the company has literally made millions off it. My reward was... well nothing. Thoughts?

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#1

Re: Payback for Patents

04/27/2007 2:42 PM

Happened to me on multiple occasions (maybe not the millions part but still...). It has to do with a little paper they make you sign when they hire you that stipulates that anything developed at work remains their "property"; even after you leave the company...it's like selling your soul to the devil...

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Payback for Patents

04/27/2007 4:41 PM

Never signed such an agreement! Wonder if I have a leg to stand on? Millions, at least one million. There are 6 of my machines running on 3 shifts for the last 4 years. Each of these increased production cycles about 40% from previous ways of producing the product.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Payback for Patents

04/27/2007 11:58 PM

I think that you'll find that many lawyers will agree that your employer, the people paying you for the fruits of your labor, are entitled to those fruits and shall be the owners. The only chance you would have is that there was a employment contract drawn up that specifically stated that you would retain ownership, intellectual rights, to those patentable ideas. But I don't think that is likely to happen. I was once in the same position and that was how it was explained to me.

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Guru

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: Payback for Patents

04/28/2007 10:37 AM

Possum:

Formal invention ownership/disclosure agreements with employers usually distinguish between inventions discovered and developed on company time using company materials and those discovered and developed on your own time using your own materials. The former belongs to the company while the company is usually granted only the first right to purchase the latter.

Invention agreements or contracts with most major employers usually include financial or other incentives for the inventor; some based on the perceived value of the invention while others include payment (or other incentives) at milestones like patent application and granting.

Without a formal contract or agreement you probably don't have a leg to stand on for prior inventions. However, everything is negotiable. You might also consider initiating such a contract for future inventions.

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Guru
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#7
In reply to #1

Re: Payback for Patents

04/28/2007 9:25 PM

why did you not develop at home? work place may be a contract place for you and company may be paying for just that.

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#4

Re: Payback for Patents

04/28/2007 12:28 AM

They didn't hire you to sit on your butt and collect a paycheck. They hired you to think and generate ideas for them!

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#11
In reply to #4

Re: Payback for Patents

04/30/2007 8:29 AM

Ya think? Sorry didn't catch your id name. This thread was to generate a discussion on the issue, not take personal attacks, try adding something positive/negative to this thread. I neither have the time nor the cash flow to follow thru with any sort of action. I enjoy my job, and the work environment and I agree that I was already paid to accomplish this invention, but was looking for others opinions to the issue.

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Guru

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#5

Re: Payback for Patents

04/28/2007 1:27 AM

The thing is, would you have invented it had you never gone to work for them? If so, then why didn't you? It's too late now. If you want to profit from your own invention, you have to develop it on your own time with your own resources, unless you are good enough to negotiate a contract to share in the profits. The Japanese offer pay as an incentive for innovation and perhaps to get better people to work for less on the chance they may score a really good invention. Would you be willing to work for less on the chance that you will create something very profitable? The thing is, if you want to profit that way you must also assume some of the risks. You could work for years and not produce another marketable invention. There's no free lunch. Larger profits generally incur higher risk.

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: Payback for Patents

04/30/2007 6:47 AM

"The thing is, would you have invented it had you never gone to work for them?"

I think you just hit the nail right on the head. Whatever I have developped/invented has been done to fill a production need. You go over the process and think of ways to better it. So the answer would be no, I wouldn't have; the need wasn't there. I always take it as gaining experience, learning how to use new technologies and bettering myself in the process. It's the only way we humans can "grow".

Never stop learning....

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#12
In reply to #5

Re: Payback for Patents

04/30/2007 9:56 AM

That is why we are hired. As an engineer I am paid to design equipment and processes that make it better, faster, more productive, and solve problems. If the manufacturing process was without problems, I would be without employment.

My employer made every employee sign an intellectual property rights document, that gave all intellectual property rights to our employer. I took exception to that - because it stipulated ALL intellectual rights. I marked up the document and then added pages of things I had developed and designed while not in their employ. I never heard a complaint from our legal, but the next year (we are required to sign it annually) a lot of my marked-up verbiage was incorporated in the document.

So I agree the employer is paying for my ideas, machines, processes that I develop on the job under their pay. But all things I develop(ed) on my time, and when not employed by them, belong to me.

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Guru
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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Payback for Patents

04/30/2007 11:52 AM

Dear Barnie

You are right. You should always bargain in your favour. It is not only you are developing something for your employer, you are also learning about their technology and hence NDA is a must.

In early times IBM did not like people going out so they all were made Vice President of the company. You are intellectual property risk for the company. If my men duplicate my instruments then they will seriously harm our business.

Young engineers are not only paid but are educated by the experienced company with class one knowledge of the product. If you develop it then also others around will know about it and hence all put company at risk. Employees causing harm is well known.

Some companies allow Patent rights to the inventor. It is their investment in their employee. They know that person will be more happy in that way. If my employee is inventing something for me then I sure can share business with the person. This is very nice way to accept the fact and make every one look in a positive way. Many times employer is not keen in what you can develop but has a plan and your diversion of mind may be of a problem.

Employees are not much separate from the business and only when they are only employees, then these problems may come more seriously. The very first thing to do is to accept that business has a goal and a purpose. It also has requirements that are normal and may look as if they were special. Engineers are supposed to be special so what is great telling about it.

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#8

Re: Payback for Patents

04/30/2007 4:57 AM

WHEN YOUR ARE BEING PAID TO WORK AS AN ENGINEER FOR A COMPANY AND YOU GENERATE A PATENTABLE IDEA, THEN THE COMPANY PAID YOU FOR THAT AND THEY OWN IT.

MY EXPERIENCE: 20 YEARS AGO I CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF "ZONE BIT RECORDING" FOR HARD DISK DRIVES (HDD) AND MY EMPLOYER PATENTED IT. SINCE THEN ALL HDD MANUFACTURES HAVE SUEDO-COPY-PATENTS THAT DO THE SAME THING AND ALL HDDs (100s OF BILIONS $$$) THAT HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE PAST 15 YEARS INCORPORATE THIS IDEA.

I WAS LUCKY, THEY GAVE ME A SPECIAL REWARD OF $1,500.00 EVEN AFTER I LEFT THE COMPANY.

GOOD LUCK

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Guru

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Payback for Patents

04/30/2007 5:19 AM

That's a problem that a lot of people don't realize about patents. One purpose of a patent is to stimulate technology. It forces someone else to pay you or come up with a different way to do something. You don't patent the idea of doing something you patent the method of doing it. Also, patents cost thousands of dollars to acquire and maintain. Many never generate as much profit as the cost. It is not all milk and honey. Even if you have a good patent, someone can develop a new technology to make it useless overnight. I worked for a year with a group to develop a method of secure paging. Before we could complete the patent, digital cell phones hit the market. Pagers are now almost a relic of the past.

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Anonymous Poster
#14

Re: Payback for Patents

05/02/2007 1:39 PM

Before you think your employer is ripping you off. Think about how much money you need to invest before you can patent your idea. We all have ideas but most don't have the resource required to prove it and get it to work.


Pineapple

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Guru
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#15

Re: Payback for Patents

05/09/2007 6:59 AM

These sort of things are usually covered in the Contract of Employment signed by both the employee and the employer upon commencement.

Best thing: if one has a patentable idea, keep it quiet until the employment contract has been terminated and any post-termination 'rest period' for patents has expired.

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