Do My Employees Hold Intellectual Property Rights?

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Your employee may have played a key role in producing a piece of intellectual property for your business. But with this, there may be a misunderstanding as to who owns it. Read on to discover whether your employees hold intellectual property rights and how a seasoned employment agreement attorney in Gloucester County NJ, at The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C., can help you in making this distinction.

Do my employees have intellectual property rights?

Generally speaking, as an employer, you may have the right to seek a patent, copyright, trademark, or otherwise ownership of the intellectual property that your employees produce. However, this is unless your employee creates such original work outside of their employment with your company. Examples are as follows:

  • You may not have ownership of an original work that an employee made outside of their established working hours.
  • You may not have ownership of an original work that an employee made without the use of company property (i.e., equipment, facilities, or trade secret information).
  • You may not have ownership of an employee’s original work that is irrelevant to your company’s research and development.
  • You may not have ownership of an employee’s original work that is irrelevant to their job description.

How can I protect my intellectual property in an employment agreement?

Though you expect your employee to give up ownership of all intellectual property that they produce for the sake of your company, it may be detrimental to simply assume this. In other words, you may lose out on this intellectual property and the profits associated with it if you do not distinguish ownership in an employment agreement. With that being said, even before an employee starts their first day working for your company, you must have them sign an employment agreement that discloses the following:

  • You must disclose that an employee hereby assigns rights to all intellectual property created during their employment to your company.
  • You must disclose that you have the right to seek injunctive relief if an employee misappropriates or infringes upon your company’s ownership of this intellectual property.

Worth mentioning, you must establish a similar agreement whenever taking on an independent contractor. This may avoid any issues if your company pursues a patent or copyright for this intellectual property.

Once this agreement is signed by an employee, you must continue to check in with them and make sure that you are on the same page. For example, you may ask your employee to occasionally disclose what original work they have been developing outside of work.

The bottom line is that, if your employee is infringing upon your intellectual property rights, then you need one of the competent New Jersey employment lawyers in your corner. Call or send a message to The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. today. We look forward to hearing from you.

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