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Employment contracts and an ownership of inventions provision

Depending on your profession, you may tinker with a variety of ideas. In fact, you may even have the responsibility of creating new products for your company.

With this in mind, it's not out of the question for your employment contract to include an ownership of inventions provision. However, before you sign a contract with this provision, you should better understand what it entails and how it affects your legal rights

An ownership of inventions provision typically states that anything you invent at work becomes the employer's invention -- not your own. Furthermore, some provisions have language stating that anything you invent in a particular period after termination also belongs to the employer.

Other terms and conditions may include the following:

  • You agree to cooperate with the employer in patenting your inventions.
  • You agree to keep information regarding the invention confidential.
  • You agree to assign all legal rights to your invention over to your employer.

When reviewing an employment contract with this provision, pay close attention to any details that could benefit you, such as if your employer is willing to share a percentage of the royalties received for said inventions.

An employment contract with an ownership of inventions provision is every bit as complicated as it sounds, as there is often gray area regarding your legal rights. While your employer asks you to sign this to protect their rights, they don't typically have your best interests in mind.

If you're dealing with a dispute regarding the ownership of an invention, review your employment contract and then learn more about your legal rights. If you have grounds to fight back, don't hesitate to do so.

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