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Let say this patent for an example:

http://www.google.com/patents/USD285687

The inventors are: Jerrold C. Manock, Terrell A. Oyama, Steven P. Jobs

They are working in Apple and invent that.

  1. If one of them, leave the company, can he/she use this patent on his own project? or the company he/she work in?
  2. If all of them leave the company, can Apple still have the right to use the patent?
  3. If all of them leave the company, and they set up a new company, can the new company use them?
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1 Answer 1

The patent owner is the assignee -- in this case, Jerold Manock. I didn't try to check, but I'd guess that it was subsequently assigned to Apple Computer.

In any case, the assignee (and possible subsequent assignees) really own the patent. Being (one of) the inventor(s) doesn't mean you necessarily have any rights/ownership to the patented invention at all. Most companies do give inventors some sort of reward but that's really voluntary, not something they're required to do.

Most employment agreements (at least for positions where you're at all likely to invent much) require that you assign rights to anything you invent while working there to the employer so you don't own patents on such inventions.

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I think the "anything you invent" would be limited to being related to the scope of the work that you do (or the company's products), and/or made use of company resources. Say for example, one works at Apple on their mobile software, and they invent something related to a new way to manufacture furniture. If company resources were not used to produce this patent, then they would not be required to assign this invention to the company. –  Peter Grill Dec 27 '12 at 17:06
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