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Does My Company Own My Intellectual Property?

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If you create something at work, does your company own it? What if you create it using company equipment? Here’s what you need to know about your workplace and intellectual property rights. In many cases, intellectual property (IP) created on behalf of a business in exchange for compensation is considered the property of the business that commissioned it. The terms of a signed business agreement might stipulate who owns any intellectual property created on company time or using company equipment. Review all agreements carefully before signing.

Though intellectual property laws favor businesses, employees have rights. Consult with an attorney if you believe a business agreement you’ve signed violates state or federal law. This article is for professionals and creatives who regularly develop intellectual property on behalf of businesses and need to know who owns the rights to their work.

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Intellectual property rights are designed to protect various types of creative expression, but what happens when that creative expression occurs on company time or within the confines of an employment relationship? Do you own the ideas you come up with in the workplace? This guide will serve as an introduction to intellectual property rights in the workplace and what you can expect when it comes to retaining the rights to your creative labor.

While copyrights, trademarks, and patents protect intellectual property from theft or misuse, they do you no good unless you are in fact the owner of the intellectual property. So, who owns the intellectual property you’ve created on company time, or using company tools?

Key takeaway: Intellectual property refers to creative works, inventions and branding. To protect intellectual property, owners can file for copyrights, patents and trademarks.

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