I have done something in a company, which has not been patented. Can I file a patent for the idea in another company?

  • From patent law: maybe. But it might belong to your old employer, so that's what you should be focusing on. Employment law however is off topic here.
    – user18033
    Nov 9, 2018 at 10:26
  • Interesting, so in a simple ways, if two people have an idea, and the second person files it, followed by first person challenging that he had earlier invented but did not protect it legally or publishes it in public forums and does not wish too, then in that case, it will never be patented? The second person cannot file and first person does not want to ? Nov 9, 2018 at 10:49
  • No (well something like that was pre AIA / before 2013 in the US, but not anymore). But if you do something for your employer, the intellectual property might belong to them and you might not be allowed to just take it with you.
    – user18033
    Nov 9, 2018 at 10:58
  • There is also the issue that it may be too late if the information has been made public longer than one year before the day you might file. And the issue that you may have had co-inventors working with you in your old company.
    – George White
    Nov 13, 2018 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Can I file a patent for the idea in another company?

Most probably not.

I suppose it has to do with your employment agreement, but the answer is almost certainly no you can't file for a patent on an idea generated during previous employment. For most people, your work product is owned by the company who is paying you. This has been true for me during my entire professional career both as a full time employee and as a consultant. When a company files a patent, the inventor is listed as such, but the assignee is the company who will own the patent (should it be granted). A company can decide to obtain a patent or not, but the decision not to doesn't change the fact that they control the idea and can decide to keep it trade secret or even publish the idea to keep others from patenting it. Indeed, just telling your new company about the idea might open you up a lawsuit if the idea is considered confidential information by your old employer. Please note that I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Also, the law may differ based on where you are employed.

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