If you are an employer that has employees working under you who are developing new technologies, processes, compositions, or other patentable works, you will want to work with an attorney to ensure that you have a work-for-hire agreement in place that covers you. When an employee of Company X invents something on company time, under the direction of the company, then the patent belongs to the company. However, if you failed to implement a work-for-hire agreement, this situation could be complicated. Read more about work-for-hire agreements below, and learn how The Patent Professor can help you protect your company’s intellectual property.
What is a Work-for-hire Agreement?
Work-for-hire agreements are legal designations applied to patents and copyrights for anything developed by employees of a company. This is also known as corporate authorship. It is important that you clearly define the terms of this agreement before your employees begin creating works under your direction, because this is an exception to the general idea that an inventor is also the owner of the patent rights as the original creator.
Under a Work For Hire agreement, the employer, as the owner of the copyright or patent, has no legal obligation to disclose the employee as the creator, or give any accreditation to them whatsoever. However, this is not a disallowed act, meaning that you can give your employees credit if you so choose, but will still retain the patent rights.
Should I Create a Work For Hire Agreement?
If you are running a company and have employees working for you that are developing different types of technologies, innovations, or anything patentable for the benefit of the company and as part of their job, then it is important that you execute a very clear work for hire agreement with everyone involved. If you did not have a secure agreement in place, you could end up in a situation where an employee or consultant invented a significant piece of equipment for your intellectual property, and then claimed (rightfully) that they were the creators of the item, and therefore the rightful patent holders.
How Can I Be Sure I Am Covered By My Work For Hire Agreement?
When you are drafting a work for hire agreement to be distributed and signed by all employees, contractors, consultants, and freelancers involved in your business, it is important that you work with an attorney who is very experienced with copyright and patent law in the United States. This agreement is an important part of your business, and will be essential to ensure that your developments and innovations within the company are protected from any sort of legal issues that could arise down the road.
As your company evolves, more departments are added, new workers come into play, and greater innovations are being made, it is important that you continuously work with a lawyer to ensure that the language present in your agreement is sufficient for the scope of work that your company or corporation are producing. Every time you hire a consultant to generate intellectual property for you, you must be sure that the work you are hiring them to do is covered by this agreement.
Can The Patent Professor Help Me With a Work For Hire Agreement?
If you are creating a company, or already running a company, that has employees, consultants, contractors, and freelancers working on innovations for your products, then it is essential that you put a work for hire agreement in place as soon as possible. The Patent Professor has over 20 years of experience with patent law, and will be happy to use this experience to work with you in order to define a safe, full-encompassing agreement that protects your company from intellectual property and patent disputes down the road.
If you are currently dealing with a dispute regarding a work for hire agreement or the rightful ownership of certain innovations, we will work with you to develop a case and prove that you are the rightful and final owner of the patent.