Inventors of the World, Unite: A Call for Collective Action by Employee-Inventors

Academic Article


  • This article first reviews the disincentives to innovate confronting the typical employee-inventor, who is forced to assign all of the rights to any patentable invention she develops to her employer without compensation. Next, it considers mechanisms for eliminating (or at least minimizing) these disincentives suggested by other scholars, the implementation of which require either new legislation or changes in judicial interpretation, or sometimes both. Finally, this article proposes a unique solution for solving the disincentive problem: Rather than waiting for Congressional or Judicial action, as neither is likely imminent, inventors should organize and act collectively, by refusing to sign any pre-invention assignment agreements in the future, by revoking pre-invention assignment agreements currently in effect (either through negotiations with the companies they work for, or by changing jobs and refusing to sign such agreements with new employers), and by retaining ownership of their patented inventions to exploit or license themselves, or with the assistance of a patent collective organized by and for inventors.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • 1997
  • Published In


  • collective action
  • employee
  • employment
  • incentives
  • innovation
  • invent
  • inventor
  • patent
  • pre-invention assignment agreement
  • technology
  • Start Page

  • 673
  • End Page

  • 730
  • Volume

  • 37
  • Issue

  • 3