Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is imperative for retaining your rights to the concepts you bring to fruition. In many circumstances, you can do this on an individual basis. However, ownership often comes into question for inventions created in connection to a business.
Suppose you accept an employment offer for a software development group. You might anticipate assigning rights to the programs you develop to the company.
In such a situation, you’d be using the company’s resources to produce a viable product on their behalf. And you’d relinquish your ability to take legal action against them.
A court may also grant these “shop rights” to a company for products developed by an independent contractor. Previous Supreme Court rulings suggest an obligation to assign your patents, for example, to your employer.
Unfortunately, IP ownership isn’t always so clear
Contrary to the above examples, let’s say you create a new-hire process while doing administrative work for a software development company.
Your employer could probably implement that onboarding method without paying you royalties because that’s outside the scope of their business practice, and they’re unlikely to register a patent for the procedure. You may be able to do so on your own.
Further complexity arises
Some companies claim the assignment of an employee’s IP rights for inventions created on their own time. Colorado is among the majority of states that make these agreements enforceable.
Your rights may come into question further if another entity purchases your place of employment. Intellectual property disputes during an acquisition may result in litigation as all parties vie to protect their interests.