This Question has two parts. 1) If you are working for a company, lets say, apple for example. As an engineer, you have a brilliant idea/invention that is specific to the job you are working in, lets say mobile phones. You can't go patent it and make money as you don't own a phone company to use the invention. So do you try to sell it? To your own company? Their competitors? Give it away to the company you are working for? I understand some company's give a percentage to the inventor/employee, but if they don't like most, then what? Seems there is no win in this situation.

2) Why Invent or innovate? Working in a company, I can see its always a select few that invent or bring new ideas forward, yet receive no benefit, other than a pat on the back. Why not just sit back and do your 9-5 like the other employees? Why bother? I have never seen a company that actively encourages or rewards this behaviour.

Interested in seeing your takes on this. Thanks.

  • 1 because an invention made on company time normally doesn't belong to you and 2 is off topic. Actually I think the whole question is off topic.
    – user18033
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:04

1 Answer 1


To answer you questions, if you are working for a company and invent something while being paid by the company, you do not own the invention and have no rights to use it yourself or sell it to anyone else. This is the standard agreement when working (at least in the US). It is true some companies provide additional incentives to inventors, but that doesn't change the fundamental premise that if you are being paid to do work, the company owns your work product.

As to why you you should invent or innovate, I can only answer for myself. For me, solving problems and inventing is the most fun I have at work. Also, invention rarely is a solo endeavor and working with other smart and creative people is very enjoyable. My inventions made me valuable at my company and I enjoyed a long career and was well paid. My company did provide some rewards when patents issued, but these were never the reason I invented. For sure there are people who would rather go it alone and try to monetize their ideas themselves rather than work for a company. That's cool and the motivation for many entrepreneurs. Part of what I do now is help start-up companies develop their ideas. I would warn you, however that going it alone is very risky and requires a lot of skills beyond invention.

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