Intellectual property ownership is complex: Here’s why

When you went online and were browsing through a few social media feeds, you were shocked to see a post about a product that one of your past employees designed while working for you. In your mind, that design was the property of your business because the work done to create it was performed while your employee was on the job and was funded by your company.

Seeing your employee use this property without permission is jarring to say the least. However, since they’re no longer employed by you and you haven’t used the intellectual property, you’re not sure what you can do.

The laws are straightforward concerned intellectual property

Interestingly, the laws are straightforward. Employers, generally speaking, are usually entitled to any intellectual property that was created at or for their business. This is true unless there is information in your contract that states that your employee keeps their own intellectual property, even if it was made on the job.

There are exceptions to this rule, but in most cases, if your employee uses your resources to create a product or service that it was their job to create, then they may not go on to use that as their own property after they leave. If they made the product or improved on your business when they weren’t in a direct role related to a system or product that you intended to patent, then there is some gray area where they may still have the rights even if they used your company’s assets to come up with those ideas.

Our website has more on this topic, as it can be confusing and complex when you’re working out who owns specific pieces of intellectual property.