Employees, inventions and compensation

23 February 2017

Author: Aisling O'Hare
Practice Area: Commercial Law


If a UK employee creates an invention in the course of his or her employment, in most cases such invention will belong to their employer. However, sections 40 and 41 of the Patents Act 1977 (the “Act”) allow employees to claim compensation in certain cases where the patent/invention is of outstanding benefit to the employer. In practical terms, it has always been difficult for employees to qualify for such compensation and the recent Court of Appeal decision in Shanks v Unilever Plc & Ors hasn’t helped. 

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