What is An Employee Intellectual Property Agreement?
An employee agreement is usually signed when an employee is hired and joins a company. Often, these agreements include clauses that relate to intellectual property and its ownership. These clauses explain what rights a person has to any creative ideas they’ve created while at work, and what rights belong to their employer.
“Most businesses require employees to sign an employment agreement,” Honaker said. “These agreements often have provisions regarding the ownership of intellectual property created while employed. Typically, these require an employee to assign any business-related intellectual property to the business.”
This is known as IP assignment, and a written agreement, including an assignment clause, could transfer ownership rights to any intellectual property that would otherwise belong to the employee to the employer.
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In most cases, employees are thought to forfeit the rights to intellectual property created for the employer in exchange for compensation in wages or salary. That means signing any boilerplate employee agreement likely forfeits your right to maintain ownership of intellectual property you create at work.
“Because it is widely accepted that employees are being compensated for their ideas as part of their salaries, they will have to be proactive if they wish to hold on to any of their intellectual property rights,” Khalifeh said. “This means negotiating rights ahead of time and making sure these are outlined in the terms of their employment agreements.”
Key takeaway: Many business agreements include a clause in which the employee forfeits rights to any intellectual property created on company time or using business-owned equipment.