If inventions or ideas were created while employed at a company that uses the "standard" policy of having all inventions created by an employee assigned to the company, and the company has not patented the inventions or ideas:

What are my options on patenting the inventions or ideas?
Is there a minimum time required before the invention or idea is "free" from being patented by the company? When could I rightfully file for a patent (if I can file at all)?

  • I too have a similar problem. I submitted an invention disclosure and an IP (full disclosure doc somewhat similar to patent doc, with basic patent searches too included) to a company I worked for then. I tried to follow up after leaving the company to find its status. They did not reply to my many email requests (IP dept.) and finally they said that what they do are confidential and will not let me know since I am not with them. My submission was in the year 2012! What options do I have with respect to my research outcomes? So cannot I use the outcomes of my invention either?
    – Eas
    Oct 22, 2015 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


The answer to your question depends strongly on the exact wording of your employment agreement, and therefore cannot be answered without access to this.

However, in most cases, assuming a "standard" agreement, if your invention is covered by the terms of your employment agreement, your company would retain a right to decide what actions to take, as an assignee in perpetuity of all rights to the invention. This could include filing a patent application, maintaining the invention as trade secret, "shelving", or altogether abandoning the invention; and in all cases you would have given up any right to pursue the invention. In summary, it is more likely than not that you do not have any right to file a patent application.

Bear in mind, though, that this is generic information. You should consult with an attorney to review your specific situation.

  • so assuming a "standard" agreement, they would probably have the right to "shelf" the invention "forever" and I do not have any rights to pursue it ever? so lets say, in 50 years, if the company is still around and hasnt applied for the patent, i would still have no right to file for the patent? Nov 4, 2015 at 23:07
  • Correct; in most cases you would be out of luck.... Nov 5, 2015 at 5:14
  • so "first to file" doesn't apply here? Nov 20, 2015 at 18:26

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