Who owns my ideas or intangible creations?
- The role of IP
- Who owns my ideas or intangible creations?
- Managing knowledge and innovation
- IP Facts
How does my status as an inventor or creator affect my rights?
In Canada, there is no general rule requiring that an inventor or creator employee assign his or her invention or creation to the employer. However, there are situations when an employee may still be legally obligated to assign his or her inventions or creations to the employer. One such situation might be where there is an agreement to assign an employee's work-related invention or creation to the employer. In the absence of an assignment agreement, an employer may also have the right to the employee's invention or creation if the employee is hired to invent or create or if the employer asks the employee to solve a work-related problem or create something that is also work related — in other words if the employee's invention or creation was conceived and developed within the scope of employment.
Does my employer own everything? What if I work on contract?
In general, an employer has no right to an employee's invention or creation conceived and developed outside the scope of employment, during the employee's own free time and without using any resources provided by the employer. If someone works under contract, the IP ownership for the inventive or creative work made by the employee on contract may be a complicated question. In some cases, there is an expressed or implied contract agreement that covers the IP ownership question.
There also are situations when a former employer or a company that hired the employee on contract may have provided funding or work time for the inventive and creative work. Even if the employee on contract owns the IP rights, he or she may be obligated to give to the former employer or the company some non-exclusive rights to use the inventive or creative work without paying royalties.