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back to article Inventors given £1.5m by High Court

Two researchers have been awarded £1.5m under a little-used section of patent law which allows employees extra compensation for inventions which are of "outstanding benefit" to employers. Companies which hire employees to invent things for them generally retain the patents and other intellectual property for those inventions. By …

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Are you sure?

A British court? A sensible decision? A victory for the individual vs a thieving multinational?

It's not April 1st, is it?

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Geez

The US and UK patent systems are so completely different they shouldn't even share the name.

Please gawd, don't let the current US abomination infect our system. Alas with megacorps controlling with worldwide shots, i fear this kind of thing will quickly be written into employment contracts and this is the last we'll ever see of that.

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What a joke!

So they hire these people to invent things and pay them a wage whether they succeed or fail. The person agrees to take on this job and does the task.

Then when the invention takes off, they get paid more money? Why?? It's the employers who put in the risk and investment to pay their wages.

If I'm working at McDonalds and I have a record day where I sell 500,000 of their burgers, can I force my employers to pay me more because I did my job well?

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Unhappy

Bankers vs. Scientists

Strange world we live in, isn't it?

Bankers get millions in bonuses as a matter of course, even though their reckless gambling has wrought misery on the masses.

Scientists invent something that helps save lives, generate revenue and keep thousands in gainful employment, yet they have to go to court to chisel a bonus out of their employer.

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Brilliant

Nice to see the "techies" get the rewards. No doubt the gobshite sales reps got shit loads of commision for doing their job, while the people who did the hard work got bugger all.

I like this judge!

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Anonymous Coward

Nice work, Sir Richard!

Here's a guy that happily trousered a million pounds+ in salary and bonuses every year, yet is prepared to fight his most valuable employees *in court* over a paltry £1.5m.

Oh, I see: he's *worth* it. On the other hand, mere "scientists" and "engineers" are clearly undeserving of such rewards.

{sigh}

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Anonymous Coward

Value vs. Compensation

"Former Glaxo chief executive Sir Richard Sykes gave evidence in the company's support, saying that inventions were a corporate effort involving teams of people."

Bull. If he can show that any contributor to the invention was not listed as an inventor, then he can invalidate the patent. The final embodiment may have been the result of a team effort, but patents are required to list all contributors.

If the company had done the decent thing and, after the patent had resulted in its first fifty million in revenue, given the inventors a bonus of 100K each, I wonder if this would ever have come up. How much bonus / commission did the sales reps get for every sale? By the time the gross revenues passed a billion, you can bet the sales reps all had new houses. The inventors? Maybe they had less trouble funding their next project. Oh, and a plaque.

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@ Stephen

"If I'm working at McDonalds and I have a record day where I sell 500,000 of their burgers, can I force my employers to pay me more because I did my job well?"

I would expect them to make you a manager of sales and a nice liitle holiday in Hawaii if you managed to sell even a quarter of that in one store in one day.

The fact is that many companies and organisations employ very talented people who are great whilst they are making things or involved in high profile projects which improve performance but are all too quick to turn a blind eye when the company is looked to for the smallest of rewards.

I say well done to them and well done to the High Court for being sensible.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Stephen

"can I force my employers to pay me more because I did my job well?"

Yes, 'cos that's what patent law says.

Unlike, say, the corporate insanity which automatically rewards CEOs with millions regardless of company performance, yet chooses to fight legitimate claims like this in court.

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@ Anon Coward

You mean the CEOs that started, invested and worked their way up companies? People choose their jobs and know what their wage is, if they don't like it then they can feck off and get another job.

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Unhappy

I'm not sure I like this

To be sure, it is nice to see employees getting paid for a great contribution to their company. You even feel in this case, they should have gotten more...

However, I do not like the idea of having more and more expensive lawsuits between companies and employees who disagree on the exact amount they should be paid. In my ideal world, such compensation would be fixed by the law, and not subject to vague words like "outstanding benefits", whose meaning can be decided only in court.

BTW, saw today an ad for a management school:

"Ideas do not rule the world, but their management does"

How's that for an absolute statement of superiority of management over techies?

W3 0wnz j00r @$$

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Pirate

And So It Goes

I work in a field where a single "bright idea" can bring millions in revenue. My employers "own" my bright ideas. I have my name on a patent (which the [now prior] company owns) that gives them an edge in a highly competitive market. I got a cheque amounting to less than half a week's wages for my trouble. If the company makes a single sale of a single system based on that feature, they will be paying the sales droid a bonus of about my annual salary, and the execs will each see double that.

Ironically, though _their_ bonuses will buy them a car or a boat -- even a house, for the veeps, mine wasn't enough for a new computer, or even a new flat screen monitor.

The only real benefit has been that it scored me some points on my resume. When I left there. And went to work for the competition.

Not that I'm being paid more now. Less, in fact.

Oh well. I shouldn't gripe. I'm still working.

That's more than my old boss can say.

Pirates, the lot of them.

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Anonymous Coward

@Stephen

So the senior executives are worth performance bonuses, regardless of whether their performance was obviously crap, because they have worked hard to get to the top. The engineer does not deserve a bonus, even when his performance was obviously outstanding, because he didn't work hard. The way we know he didn't work hard is that he is not an executive.

So, by extension, the only reason a clever person would work as an engineer or scientist is if he likes the work more than money or recognition. Do you see any long-term problems with this policy? Have you read how companies complain they can't hire competent technical workers, although the schools keep producing graduates?

I'm not saying your opinion is out of step with standard British management. I am just saying that it goes a long way towards explaining the number of clever British scientists and engineers working abroad. If the companies that rely on hiring these people are too thick to do something about it, maybe inspired rulings like this will help them see their way clear to preventing their own eventual collapse.

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