If you are the owner of a business, the odds are that you also own original work. And even though your employees may have helped in the production of this original work, you may still assume the rights to it. However, you must not blindly rely on assumptions of ownership. Continue reading to learn whether employees have ownership of intellectual property and how an experienced Essex County, New Jersey intellectual property lawyer at The Ingber Law Firm can unblur these lines.
Do employees have rights to intellectual property?
Simply because your employee creates a piece of original work during their employment at your business does not necessarily mean that you, as the employer, have automatic and exclusive ownership of it. Rather, you must establish a written agreement with your employee. This may be an employee contract, or more specifically an assignment of inventions or an ownership of discoveries agreement.
Regardless of which type, such an agreement should disclose that any intellectual property created by the employee is considered the ownership of you and your business. Further, it should state the penalties for misappropriating or infringing upon your business’s ownership of intellectual property, along with remedies and relief provisions. Here, you may still allow your employee to own intellectual property by incorporating the following conditions:
- You may state that an employee can own an original work that was made entirely on their own time.
- You may state that an employee can own an original work that was made without the use of your business’s property.
- You may state that an employee can own an original work that does not relate to your business’s operations.
- You may state that an employee can own an original work that does not relate to their job responsibilities.
Of note, you must remember to enforce similar agreements with independent contractors. Ultimately, if you do not take these proper precautions, you and your business may suffer a monetary loss alongside the loss of your original work.
What should I do to protect my business’s intellectual property?
In addition to establishing a written agreement with your employee, you may protect your business’s intellectual property in the following ways:
- Have prospective employees disclose what original work they own before commencing their employment at your business.
- Have current employees periodically disclose what original work they have created independently from your business’s operations.
- Have exiting employees review the written agreement they signed upon entering your business.
The bottom line is that, if your business’s intellectual property is being threatened, then you need a skilled Essex County, New Jersey intellectual property lawyer in your corner. Call or send a message to The Ingber Law Firm today. We look forward to hearing from you.