Who Owns IP When You’re an Employee?
Intellectual Property, or IP, is a very lucrative commodity in the digital age. Everyone with an idea, from entrepreneurs to business owners, has a stake in the game of intellectual property. IP can be a very difficult thing to define, however. Determining ownership of IP can be challenging because each type of IP has their own guidelines for determining who owns it.
Patentable inventions, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and domain names are just a few intellectual properties whose ownership can be disputed. It gets very tricky when someone invents something while they are working for another employer.
Generally, with patentable inventions the inventor would own the rights. However, if the invention was created during company time and using company resources, an employer may be able to invoke limited rights of free use. With copyrights, when an employee creates something that is copyrighted during the course of their employment, the employer retains the copyrights. However, if the employee is a subcontactor, they may be able to retain the rights.
Proving ownership of trademarks is difficult as well because the proof of who actively directs and controls the use of the trademark is required. And domain name ownership depends on who bought the domain. If it is an employees name, they have significant negotiating strength. These are just a few ways that intellectual property can effect both businesses and their prospective owners.
Greenberg & Lieberman, LLC is at the forefront of internet IP protection defense. If your work is being used by a company for profit online, protect yourself. Call our offices for a consultation.