Patent incentive

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
fyre4ce
Posts: 357
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:29 am

Patent incentive

Post by fyre4ce » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:20 pm

I worked for a medium-sized company, and left that company on not-so-great but not-terrible terms a few years ago. While I worked there I made an invention, for which I convinced them to apply for a patent, with me as the principal inventor. At the time I asked their legal team about any sort of patent incentive bonuses, and they said the company did not have a patent incentive program because they have so few patents. They hired an outside law firm to handle the application process.

Fast-forward to today, when I searched the US PTO website and found my patent was recently awarded (yay!). If the company has since established a patent award program, would I be entitled to any award even though I'm no longer an employee? Should I reach out to them, or just leave it alone? Patent awards in my industry, to employees, are typically in the five-figure range. Should the company choose to monetize my invention, and if the rollout were successful, it could possibly, by my crude estimation, bring in maybe seven-figure annual revenue. I don't know whether they are pursuing it. Hoping to find someone here who has relevant knowledge and experience in this issue. Thanks in advance.

livesoft
Posts: 68580
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by livesoft » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:23 pm

I suspect other personnel have changed since you left, so without an advocate for you or something written in your severance agreement I don't think you have a leg to stand on.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

renue74
Posts: 1775
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:24 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by renue74 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:27 pm

I would guess that an incentive program is pretty low on their priority list and hasn't been implemented.

Even if it was, it would had been implemented after your departure, which is bleak for any money post employment.

bampf
Posts: 374
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:19 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by bampf » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:29 pm

Typically you assign all rights to the company that files the patent for you. In other words, you may be the inventor, but, the owner of the patent is the company. Unless the company decided to just file it for you with no rights of protection. It could happen but I very highly doubt it.

Short answer is that you should buy yourself a plaque, hang it on the wall and forget about it. Or buy the patent from the company.
I have several myself, and they are nice to look at. Your chance of monetizing is virtually nil.

Bampf

Topic Author
fyre4ce
Posts: 357
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:29 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by fyre4ce » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:36 pm

bampf wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:29 pm
Typically you assign all rights to the company that files the patent for you. In other words, you may be the inventor, but, the owner of the patent is the company. Unless the company decided to just file it for you with no rights of protection. It could happen but I very highly doubt it.
There's no doubt that the former employer owns the rights to the patent. I am talking instead about employers paying bonuses to employees for making patent-able inventions. For example, a previous employer (before the one in question) had a robust program, where you got a $100 bonus just for submitting any non-trivial invention idea (no need for a prior art search or anything) and then progressively more money as the invention worked its way up the ladder, culminating in something like a $25,000 bonus if the invention patent was awarded.

fabdog
Posts: 786
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:59 pm
Location: Williamsburg VA

Re: Patent incentive

Post by fabdog » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:57 pm

Sure, you could give them a ring, and ask if they implemented a program after you left employment, and by the way, if they did, does it cover employees who left before it was implemented?

Realistically, what do you think the answer would be even if they implemented a program after you left?

But it's your time... give them a call

Mike

sport
Posts: 8536
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Patent incentive

Post by sport » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:06 pm

When the last company I worked for filed for patents on my ideas, they had me sign over the rights "for $10 and other valuable considerations". The cheapskates did not even give me the $10. :annoyed

I have 10 patents. The largest incentive award I ever received was $200.
fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:20 pm
...and they said the company did not have a patent incentive program because they have so few patents.
Maybe they has so few patents because they had no incentive program, rather than the other way around.

marcopolo
Posts: 2493
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:22 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by marcopolo » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:30 pm

fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:20 pm
I worked for a medium-sized company, and left that company on not-so-great but not-terrible terms a few years ago. While I worked there I made an invention, for which I convinced them to apply for a patent, with me as the principal inventor. At the time I asked their legal team about any sort of patent incentive bonuses, and they said the company did not have a patent incentive program because they have so few patents. They hired an outside law firm to handle the application process.

Fast-forward to today, when I searched the US PTO website and found my patent was recently awarded (yay!). If the company has since established a patent award program, would I be entitled to any award even though I'm no longer an employee? Should I reach out to them, or just leave it alone? Patent awards in my industry, to employees, are typically in the five-figure range. Should the company choose to monetize my invention, and if the rollout were successful, it could possibly, by my crude estimation, bring in maybe seven-figure annual revenue. I don't know whether they are pursuing it. Hoping to find someone here who has relevant knowledge and experience in this issue. Thanks in advance.
I served on the patent committee of my previous employer. We had a very generous patent incentive program. A significant award when filed, and another, even bigger payment when granted. But, the payment was only made to current employees. If someone left in the middle of the process, they would not receive any additional payments. I would expect most companies to have similar policies.

The incentive program is to entice employees to keep cranking out innovative ideas from which the company might benefit. That situation no longer exists once you leave the company.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

Topic Author
fyre4ce
Posts: 357
Joined: Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:29 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by fyre4ce » Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:49 pm

marcopolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:30 pm
I served on the patent committee of my previous employer. We had a very generous patent incentive program. A significant award when filed, and another, even bigger payment when granted. But, the payment was only made to current employees. If someone left in the middle of the process, they would not receive any additional payments. I would expect most companies to have similar policies.

The incentive program is to entice employees to keep cranking out innovative ideas from which the company might benefit. That situation no longer exists once you leave the company.
Fair enough, although one could argue that the incentive to current employees would be stronger if they knew they would be eligible for awards even if they left the company in the interim - the patent application process can (and in this case, did) take years. In the worst case, an employee who thinks there's a chance they might leave the company could wait and file their invention with a new employer, who might be a competitor, to have a better shot at getting a big incentive when patent is granted.

Of course, it matters less what the rules should be, and more what they actually are.

MathWizard
Posts: 3631
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by MathWizard » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:02 pm

I had 6 patents and got just under $1800 in one time payments

I considered myself lucky that they gave me anything at all, they could have claimed the IP. I also got to put the patents on my CV/resume

There isconsiderable work that the company does to get the patent. Given that you have done work that produce something valuable, you
may want to see if you can get a patent on your own for something unrelated to your work, and created outside if work, not using company resources, if you are still working. If you do, you will likely need to pay a patent attorney to file for you. You will also need to defend the patent if anyone infringes.

The dirty secret is that large companies use their patent suite as a bludgeon. They know that it is inevitable that they will infringe on some patent, so they build up a large patent portfolio. Then they find out what companies are likely infringing on their patents, and they can deal with any potential infringements on patents by that company by countersuing.

This is why I have never pursued a patent on my own.

KlangFool
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by KlangFool » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:10 pm

OP,

The biggest reason to file a patent when you reach a certain technical level is to be able to tell the world what you know and what you are capable of. Patents are public information. For many technical folks, unless you worked with them directly, they could not disclose what they did and what they knew.

KlangFool

bampf
Posts: 374
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:19 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by bampf » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:21 pm

fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:36 pm
bampf wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:29 pm
Typically you assign all rights to the company that files the patent for you. In other words, you may be the inventor, but, the owner of the patent is the company. Unless the company decided to just file it for you with no rights of protection. It could happen but I very highly doubt it.
There's no doubt that the former employer owns the rights to the patent. I am talking instead about employers paying bonuses to employees for making patent-able inventions. For example, a previous employer (before the one in question) had a robust program, where you got a $100 bonus just for submitting any non-trivial invention idea (no need for a prior art search or anything) and then progressively more money as the invention worked its way up the ladder, culminating in something like a $25,000 bonus if the invention patent was awarded.
Sure. If you still worked at the company, maybe. However, your chance of monetizing this patent is virtually nil. There is quite literally no incentive for the owner to send money your way. They own it, you left. Buy a plaque. More importantly, to klangfool's point, having it on your CV is probably worth far more than any patent incentive.

Monster99
Posts: 229
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:28 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Monster99 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:25 pm

sport wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:06 pm
When the last company I worked for filed for patents on my ideas, they had me sign over the rights "for $10 and other valuable considerations". The cheapskates did not even give me the $10. :annoyed

I have 10 patents. The largest incentive award I ever received was $200.
fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:20 pm
...and they said the company did not have a patent incentive program because they have so few patents.
Maybe they has so few patents because they had no incentive program, rather than the other way around.
We got $1 - A crisp new bill with the date of the patent....

Carl53
Posts: 1854
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:26 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Carl53 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:35 pm

Companies typically own whatever the employees produce without any obligation to enhance their compensation. One plant tweak I came up with (not really patentable) resulted in an eight figure annual increase in profit. No further details, sorry. After first being accused of falsifying the data, I eventually was rewarded with a $2000 bonus and kept my job.

KlangFool
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by KlangFool » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:08 pm

bampf wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:21 pm
fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:36 pm
bampf wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:29 pm
Typically you assign all rights to the company that files the patent for you. In other words, you may be the inventor, but, the owner of the patent is the company. Unless the company decided to just file it for you with no rights of protection. It could happen but I very highly doubt it.
There's no doubt that the former employer owns the rights to the patent. I am talking instead about employers paying bonuses to employees for making patent-able inventions. For example, a previous employer (before the one in question) had a robust program, where you got a $100 bonus just for submitting any non-trivial invention idea (no need for a prior art search or anything) and then progressively more money as the invention worked its way up the ladder, culminating in something like a $25,000 bonus if the invention patent was awarded.
Sure. If you still worked at the company, maybe. However, your chance of monetizing this patent is virtually nil. There is quite literally no incentive for the owner to send money your way. They own it, you left. Buy a plaque. More importantly, to klangfool's point, having it on your CV is probably worth far more than any patent incentive.
bampf,

I received a job offer purely on the strength of the patents listed on my CV/Resume.

KlangFool

Afty
Posts: 1094
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Afty » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:19 pm

It's couldn't hurt to ask your ex-company. I checked my company's policy on this, and it says they may pay a patent bonus to an ex-employee at their discretion, as long as the ex-employee cooperated with the patent filing. YMMV.

david
Posts: 188
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:39 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by david » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:59 pm

Afty wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:19 pm
It's couldn't hurt to ask your ex-company. I checked my company's policy on this, and it says they may pay a patent bonus to an ex-employee at their discretion, as long as the ex-employee cooperated with the patent filing. YMMV.
This is mostly used if a declaration or assignment is needed. It's cleaner to get one signed from the inventor than use an alternative process.

Tracker968
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:32 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Tracker968 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:29 pm

I worked for a Fortune 500 company and received several patents. Recipients were entitled to attend an annual patent luncheon! No payments were made.

I think once you sign the "assignment" you don't have any further rights.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 10454
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:05 pm

I was awarded 2 patents while working at each of 2 companies. Both had the same policies. Award to me of a few hundred dollars upon official filing and another few when patent awarded. Both companies required I be working for them for each event. I left the first company after having filed, collected the first award and then was sent notice that the patent was issued, and received nothing for that.

I think that's quite standard. I believe each totaled maybe $1k or less. Don't remember exactly.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 6672
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Patent incentive

Post by whodidntante » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:21 pm

I filed a patent and two years later at a Christmas party a big boss handed me a big check. I think it was $1,700. That's how I found out there was an incentive program.

User avatar
Nate79
Posts: 5177
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Nate79 » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:26 pm

I would not waste my time as there is near zero chance they are going to pay a former employee anything for which they have zero obligation.

shess
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 12:02 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by shess » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:28 am

fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:49 pm
marcopolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:30 pm
I served on the patent committee of my previous employer. We had a very generous patent incentive program. A significant award when filed, and another, even bigger payment when granted. But, the payment was only made to current employees. If someone left in the middle of the process, they would not receive any additional payments. I would expect most companies to have similar policies.

The incentive program is to entice employees to keep cranking out innovative ideas from which the company might benefit. That situation no longer exists once you leave the company.
Fair enough, although one could argue that the incentive to current employees would be stronger if they knew they would be eligible for awards even if they left the company in the interim - the patent application process can (and in this case, did) take years. In the worst case, an employee who thinks there's a chance they might leave the company could wait and file their invention with a new employer, who might be a competitor, to have a better shot at getting a big incentive when patent is granted.

Of course, it matters less what the rules should be, and more what they actually are.
I recently had a patent granted which was originally filed in 2004. So if your incentive program involves getting the patent granted, then I agree, I'm not going to be super motivated to do work now against a dubious payoff a decade out!

That said, I only ever worked places where the incentives were more towards the filing end of things. That incentive only worked until people realized how "fun" doing the actual filing is...

marcopolo
Posts: 2493
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:22 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by marcopolo » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:38 am

shess wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:28 am
fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:49 pm
marcopolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:30 pm
I served on the patent committee of my previous employer. We had a very generous patent incentive program. A significant award when filed, and another, even bigger payment when granted. But, the payment was only made to current employees. If someone left in the middle of the process, they would not receive any additional payments. I would expect most companies to have similar policies.

The incentive program is to entice employees to keep cranking out innovative ideas from which the company might benefit. That situation no longer exists once you leave the company.
Fair enough, although one could argue that the incentive to current employees would be stronger if they knew they would be eligible for awards even if they left the company in the interim - the patent application process can (and in this case, did) take years. In the worst case, an employee who thinks there's a chance they might leave the company could wait and file their invention with a new employer, who might be a competitor, to have a better shot at getting a big incentive when patent is granted.

Of course, it matters less what the rules should be, and more what they actually are.
I recently had a patent granted which was originally filed in 2004. So if your incentive program involves getting the patent granted, then I agree, I'm not going to be super motivated to do work now against a dubious payoff a decade out!

That said, I only ever worked places where the incentives were more towards the filing end of things. That incentive only worked until people realized how "fun" doing the actual filing is...
The policy we had included awards at filing and (i believe also at grants).

This thread got me curious, so i went back and ran a report in Quicken.
Between 2010 and 2017 (retired in early 2018), I received just shy of $95k in patent incentives.

I had two patents that granted after i retired. I did not receive (nor did i expect) and payment for those events.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

StealthRabbit
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:25 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by StealthRabbit » Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:56 am

Worked 40+ yrs for a Fortune 50 that was huge into patents / invention. (100k+ engineers cranking them out)

$75 when granted.. SOP.... years ago we also got a walnut wall plaque with etched Patented Drawing.

We made a LOT of dough for the company. Mountains of dough, day in and day out.

Lots of very neat IP that never made it to market (Not companies core value).

And a many very successful start-ups. Including some current companies that are super "all-stars". ("Go make your own mark in industry", :idea: famous thoughts from our founders) They were very supportive of using company assets for inventing on your own time, and they ended up buying a few of those businesses. (ps.... We (individuals) built our own conversion electric cars and founders added 'Plug-in-parking" at every factory in USA... in 1976...)

Give yourself a pat on the back and go have a treat (Such as a $0.50 Wendy's Frosty).

marcopolo
Posts: 2493
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:22 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by marcopolo » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:00 am

StealthRabbit wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:56 am
Worked 40+ yrs for a Fortune 50 that was huge into patents / invention. (100k+ engineers cranking them out)

$75 when granted.. SOP.... years ago we also got a walnut wall plaque with etched Patented Drawing.

We made a LOT of dough for the company. Mountains of dough, day in and day out.

Lots of very neat IP that never made it to market (Not companies core value).

And a many very successful start-ups. Including some current companies that are super "all-stars". ("Go make your own mark in industry", :idea: famous thoughts from our founders) They were very supportive of using company assets for inventing on your own time, and they ended up buying a few of those businesses. (ps.... We (individuals) built our own conversion electric cars and founders added 'Plug-in-parking" at every factory in USA... in 1976...)

Give yourself a pat on the back and go have a treat (Such as a $0.50 Wendy's Frosty).
Funny. I have a stack of those walnut plaques in a box somewhere.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

Monster99
Posts: 229
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:28 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Monster99 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:34 am

Ours got mounted on the entry hall by the door to your lab - "walnut on the wall" was like a badge of honor.....
mine is now in a box in the garage....

smitcat
Posts: 4308
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by smitcat » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:40 am

fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:49 pm
marcopolo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:30 pm
I served on the patent committee of my previous employer. We had a very generous patent incentive program. A significant award when filed, and another, even bigger payment when granted. But, the payment was only made to current employees. If someone left in the middle of the process, they would not receive any additional payments. I would expect most companies to have similar policies.

The incentive program is to entice employees to keep cranking out innovative ideas from which the company might benefit. That situation no longer exists once you leave the company.
Fair enough, although one could argue that the incentive to current employees would be stronger if they knew they would be eligible for awards even if they left the company in the interim - the patent application process can (and in this case, did) take years. In the worst case, an employee who thinks there's a chance they might leave the company could wait and file their invention with a new employer, who might be a competitor, to have a better shot at getting a big incentive when patent is granted.

Of course, it matters less what the rules should be, and more what they actually are.
I had/have 5 patents when at a larger electronics development company - got some smaller recognition 'bonus's' at the time but they were not significant. That company did not pay any fee or bonus unless the patent issued when you were present at the company. All incentives at that time were skewed to keep employees and not pay them if they should leave.

bberris
Posts: 1303
Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:44 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by bberris » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:57 am

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:10 pm
OP,

The biggest reason to file a patent when you reach a certain technical level is to be able to tell the world what you know and what you are capable of. Patents are public information. For many technical folks, unless you worked with them directly, they could not disclose what they did and what they knew.

KlangFool
Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post. The law requires complete disclosure of the invention. While not every experiment or prototype needs to be described, enough information must be disclosed to produce the invention. In the US, the patent must also disclose the best mode, or optimum operating conditions found so far.

dcabler
Posts: 1138
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:30 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by dcabler » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:34 am

fyre4ce wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:20 pm
I worked for a medium-sized company, and left that company on not-so-great but not-terrible terms a few years ago. While I worked there I made an invention, for which I convinced them to apply for a patent, with me as the principal inventor. At the time I asked their legal team about any sort of patent incentive bonuses, and they said the company did not have a patent incentive program because they have so few patents. They hired an outside law firm to handle the application process.

Fast-forward to today, when I searched the US PTO website and found my patent was recently awarded (yay!). If the company has since established a patent award program, would I be entitled to any award even though I'm no longer an employee? Should I reach out to them, or just leave it alone? Patent awards in my industry, to employees, are typically in the five-figure range. Should the company choose to monetize my invention, and if the rollout were successful, it could possibly, by my crude estimation, bring in maybe seven-figure annual revenue. I don't know whether they are pursuing it. Hoping to find someone here who has relevant knowledge and experience in this issue. Thanks in advance.
Having worked in tech for 35+ years, I would say you probably don't have a strong case, since when you were employed there, you operated by the rules of the company at the time.

That said, however, I have seen two modes of operation with companies that do have a patent incentive program.
1. Many companies I've worked at had an incentive when a filing with the USPTO happens
2. Many companies additionally had an incentive when/if the patent issues.

In most companies where I worked, one had to still be employed to receive either incentive. However, in one company where I worked, even post employment, if the patent issued, then an incentive was still paid out. Doing this retroactively because of a change in their program after you left would surprise me.

Cheers.

KlangFool
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by KlangFool » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:37 am

bberris wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:57 am
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:10 pm
OP,

The biggest reason to file a patent when you reach a certain technical level is to be able to tell the world what you know and what you are capable of. Patents are public information. For many technical folks, unless you worked with them directly, they could not disclose what they did and what they knew.

KlangFool
Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post. The law requires complete disclosure of the invention. While not every experiment or prototype needs to be described, enough information must be disclosed to produce the invention. In the US, the patent must also disclose the best mode, or optimum operating conditions found so far.
bberris,

If you work in the private industries, almost anything that you do is covered under the non-disclosure agreement. So, it is nearly impossible to give enough detail about all the things that you are capable of to the public. In that kind of environment, the only way to publicly disclose what you know is through a patent filing. And, in many cases, you know much more than your job roles/title.

For example, if you file patents in Cloud computing, AI, Machine Learning, IoT, and quantum computing, it is obvious that you know something in that area. And, those are publicly disclosed information.

<<While not every experiment or prototype needs to be described, enough information must be disclosed to produce the invention. >>

You do not need to experiment or prototype to file a patent. And, it is not required for a patent to be issued either. I am on the patent panel of my employer. I know this.

KlangFool

User avatar
MaryO
Posts: 60
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:36 am
Location: New Jersey

Re: Patent incentive

Post by MaryO » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:59 am

My husband is an inventor or co-inventor on 95 patents. (I know this because he just updated his resume.) All owned by companies.
At his first Mega Corp job they awarded him a day off for each patent. If he wasn't too busy to take it. And the plaque.
Second Mega Corp they just gave a plaque.
At start-ups, nothing. And sometimes the only way he knew the patent was awarded was one of those letters inviting you to order the plaque (at your own expense, this time.)
The plaques are all in a landfill somewhere. I sure wish there had been a cash award! Could have been a nice chunk of change.

dcabler
Posts: 1138
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:30 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by dcabler » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:46 am

MaryO wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:59 am
My husband is an inventor or co-inventor on 95 patents. (I know this because he just updated his resume.) All owned by companies.
At his first Mega Corp job they awarded him a day off for each patent. If he wasn't too busy to take it. And the plaque.
Second Mega Corp they just gave a plaque.
At start-ups, nothing. And sometimes the only way he knew the patent was awarded was one of those letters inviting you to order the plaque (at your own expense, this time.)
The plaques are all in a landfill somewhere. I sure wish there had been a cash award! Could have been a nice chunk of change.
Sad to see that. I now have 30 and every place I worked gave an incentive, usually quite sizeable. Of course that ends up leading to some interesting behavior with people I know having filed/and had issued several hundred patents and creating quite a sizeable chunk of change for themselves in the process. Not sure they did much work outside of being patent-machines, but they all did retire quite early.

marcopolo
Posts: 2493
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:22 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by marcopolo » Tue Dec 03, 2019 4:29 pm

StealthRabbit wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:56 am
Worked 40+ yrs for a Fortune 50 that was huge into patents / invention. (100k+ engineers cranking them out)

$75 when granted.. SOP.... years ago we also got a walnut wall plaque with etched Patented Drawing.

We made a LOT of dough for the company. Mountains of dough, day in and day out.

Lots of very neat IP that never made it to market (Not companies core value).

And a many very successful start-ups. Including some current companies that are super "all-stars". ("Go make your own mark in industry", :idea: famous thoughts from our founders) They were very supportive of using company assets for inventing on your own time, and they ended up buying a few of those businesses. (ps.... We (individuals) built our own conversion electric cars and founders added 'Plug-in-parking" at every factory in USA... in 1976...)

Give yourself a pat on the back and go have a treat (Such as a $0.50 Wendy's Frosty).

I always find your stories interesting to read.
So, you started working for the Fortune 50 company at age 9, or younger?
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

Beehave
Posts: 583
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:46 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Beehave » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:08 pm

Nine patents here with major IT tech company. Two more with a major bank.

Received zero dollars from bank for filing and zero for the USPTO patent grant.

Received patent filing awards for all 9 at tech company.

Received patent grant awards for 7 of the 9. Two of the USPTO approvals came after I left. The company's policy is to pay, but my department was dissolved shortly before I left and with that dissolution the process for actually providing me with the grant money disappeared. Several people have attempted to get me the money since then and failed (there's no central budget for this and no department has any desire or probably even the ability to fund it out of their budget). I've given up on it.

As a general statement to anyone considering patenting their ideas and assigning the rights to their company, here's something to think about:

Career-wise, patents are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there's the pride of accomplishment, the professional honor, and possible career advancement. On the other hand, the patent involves a chunk of your intellect and experience the rights to which now belong to your company. This can potentially limit your opportunity and freedom in the future. If the company owning the rights thinks that you, while employed or after leaving, are using their property (the patent you developed) for your benefit and not theirs, you may wind up in legal contention with an entity (or in the middle of two entities) with much deeper pockets than you - - which not a good position within the court system.

KlangFool
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by KlangFool » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:19 pm

Beehave wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:08 pm
Nine patents here with major IT tech company. Two more with a major bank.

Received zero dollars from bank for filing and zero for the USPTO patent grant.

Received patent filing awards for all 9 at tech company.

Received patent grant awards for 7 of the 9. Two of the USPTO approvals came after I left. The company's policy is to pay, but my department was dissolved shortly before I left and with that dissolution the process for actually providing me with the grant money disappeared. Several people have attempted to get me the money since then and failed (there's no central budget for this and no department has any desire or probably even the ability to fund it out of their budget). I've given up on it.

As a general statement to anyone considering patenting their ideas and assigning the rights to their company, here's something to think about:

Career-wise, patents are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there's the pride of accomplishment, the professional honor, and possible career advancement. On the other hand, the patent involves a chunk of your intellect and experience the rights to which now belong to your company. This can potentially limit your opportunity and freedom in the future. If the company owning the rights thinks that you, while employed or after leaving, are using their property (the patent you developed) for your benefit and not theirs, you may wind up in legal contention with an entity (or in the middle of two entities) with much deeper pockets than you - - which not a good position within the court system.
Beehave,

It depends.

A) There is more than one way to do something. Any different way to do something is a separate patent. So, if you could provide a substantially different way to do something, it would be a new patent.

B) If you are one of those people that has more patentable ideas than the ability to implement them, it may never be a problem. I have a peer that filed 150+ patents across 3 years. And, I have peers with a few hundred issued patents.

C) Yes, my employer pays for both filed patents and issued patents.

KlangFool

bhsince87
Posts: 2562
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:44 pm

20+ Patents here.

Never got anything more than a plaque.

If I went back to a company and asked them for something after I left, they would laugh at me!
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

KlangFool
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by KlangFool » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:55 pm

Folks,

Once upon a time, the engineer received a share of royalty from the patent forever too. One of my peers has a small share of a key patent. He got paid in perpetuity. It paid for his house.

KlangFool

sport
Posts: 8536
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Patent incentive

Post by sport » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:59 pm

When I joined the last company I worked for, I found out that they had no patent incentive policy. So, based on what I had experienced while employed by a more progressive company, I wrote a policy and presented it to management for their consideration. They had no interest whatsoever. The people running the company had a background in sales and did not appreciate technology as much as they should have.

OnTrack
Posts: 533
Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:16 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by OnTrack » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:24 pm

In some countries, employees have more rights as inventors than in the United States. "Japan hit the headlines in 2004 when component maker Nichia was ordered to pay $189 million to its employee Mr Nakamura, the principal inventor of the blue LED, a hugely profitable product. Nichia was reported to have initially offered Mr. Nakamura about $200."
http://www.marketsandpatents.com/bullet ... 52007.html

ucla-engineer
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:01 am
Location: CA

Re: Patent incentive

Post by ucla-engineer » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:34 pm

For all those that receive patent bonuses, did your employer include them in W-2 income or a separate 1099? Has anyone claimed the bonuses as long term capital gains? I am referring to IRC section 1235 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/1235). The following IRS link has a memo on a similar situation: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/0249002.pdf

Starfish
Posts: 1460
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Starfish » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:14 am

My company used to offer ~3000 for each name on the patent, them it decreased to 2500$, then it decreased to 2500$ shared if more than 3 inventors or so.
It's not very hard to produce a lot of bogus patents. I know people who have hundreds of patents (like 1 million in bonuses).
Money come on W2, in 500 or 1000$ increments at various stages. It takes several years to get the entire amount when the patent is awarded.

dbr
Posts: 30798
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by dbr » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:26 am

I worked for a large, innovative company and have my name on some patents. A prolific inventor in our company was once asked what he gets for all all his inventions. The answer was "We get to keep our jobs." I guess in some companies a patent may be an extraordinary event that gets some kind of a bonus but in companies where inventing is part of the business model that is what you are paid to do. A lot of patent strategy is not about inventing per se but about competitive position both offensive and defensive. In some cases inventions are kept preferentially as trade secrets. Frankly I always found the things a lot of tedious effort and would rather they went away, especially when a lot of time had to be spent on defensive patents. Not patenting is probably part of the path to the layoff list when things don't go well. Note it is unusual that a patent is an individual effort and most corporate patents these days have multiple inventors. My company also has people with their names on hundreds of patents and you can imagine those people could hardly have been the main contributors in most of those cases. Who is named on a patent is a legal issue that has to be done correctly or the patent can be vulnerable to being lost if challenged. In this type of company the proper reward for patents should be advancement and incentive salary increase rather than a bonus.

User avatar
MaryO
Posts: 60
Joined: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:36 am
Location: New Jersey

Re: Patent incentive

Post by MaryO » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:37 am

Starfish wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:14 am
My company used to offer ~3000 for each name on the patent, them it decreased to 2500$, then it decreased to 2500$ shared if more than 3 inventors or so.
It's not very hard to produce a lot of bogus patents. I know people who have hundreds of patents (like 1 million in bonuses).
Money come on W2, in 500 or 1000$ increments at various stages. It takes several years to get the entire amount when the patent is awarded.
$3K per patent invested properly would have bought the beach house I dream about. 8-)

None of my husband's patents are bogus, but many of the 95 were revisions on existing products. The design was altered in a particular way for a new application, manufacturing tweak, etc. Most never made it to market because the company changed focus in that area. Market demand shifted. Whatever. Even if the design process was nearing completion and it was known that the product wasn't going to be developed further, a patent was sought to keep competitors from jumping on the new idea. If they ever wanted to revisit that idea, they had protection. Some products he designed made the mega corps a fortune, but a patent is really only certifying that an idea is original, not that it is valuable or necessary or even practical. Or that the holder is capable of taking it to the next step.

KlangFool
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by KlangFool » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:57 am

dbr wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:26 am
I worked for a large, innovative company and have my name on some patents. A prolific inventor in our company was once asked what he gets for all all his inventions. The answer was "We get to keep our jobs." I guess in some companies a patent may be an extraordinary event that gets some kind of a bonus but in companies where inventing is part of the business model that is what you are paid to do. A lot of patent strategy is not about inventing per se but about competitive position both offensive and defensive. In some cases inventions are kept preferentially as trade secrets. Frankly I always found the things a lot of tedious effort and would rather they went away, especially when a lot of time had to be spent on defensive patents. Not patenting is probably part of the path to the layoff list when things don't go well. Note it is unusual that a patent is an individual effort and most corporate patents these days have multiple inventors. My company also has people with their names on hundreds of patents and you can imagine those people could hardly have been the main contributors in most of those cases. Who is named on a patent is a legal issue that has to be done correctly or the patent can be vulnerable to being lost if challenged. In this type of company the proper reward for patents should be advancement and incentive salary increase rather than a bonus.
dbr,

Meanwhile, for some companies, the patent/IP licensing is a huge profit center.

KlangFool

smitcat
Posts: 4308
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by smitcat » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:15 am

KlangFool wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:57 am
dbr wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:26 am
I worked for a large, innovative company and have my name on some patents. A prolific inventor in our company was once asked what he gets for all all his inventions. The answer was "We get to keep our jobs." I guess in some companies a patent may be an extraordinary event that gets some kind of a bonus but in companies where inventing is part of the business model that is what you are paid to do. A lot of patent strategy is not about inventing per se but about competitive position both offensive and defensive. In some cases inventions are kept preferentially as trade secrets. Frankly I always found the things a lot of tedious effort and would rather they went away, especially when a lot of time had to be spent on defensive patents. Not patenting is probably part of the path to the layoff list when things don't go well. Note it is unusual that a patent is an individual effort and most corporate patents these days have multiple inventors. My company also has people with their names on hundreds of patents and you can imagine those people could hardly have been the main contributors in most of those cases. Who is named on a patent is a legal issue that has to be done correctly or the patent can be vulnerable to being lost if challenged. In this type of company the proper reward for patents should be advancement and incentive salary increase rather than a bonus.
dbr,

Meanwhile, for some companies, the patent/IP licensing is a huge profit center.

KlangFool
FWIW - our company had no incentives or budgets for patent application which did not have a specific marketable return. When we filed and later received two of our patents all of us on that team followed that technology into prototyping and then production.
The ability to move along with the patent - product life cycle served as a very valuable method to move ahead in the company and have fun while doing so.

sport
Posts: 8536
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Patent incentive

Post by sport » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:35 am

Starfish wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:14 am
It's not very hard to produce a lot of bogus patents. I know people who have hundreds of patents (like 1 million in bonuses).
In my experience, the inventor produces a "disclosure of invention" for management. Management decides whether or not to proceed with filing for a patent. Since filing is somewhat expensive, they would only file if they felt the invention was worthwhile. If it was a bogus idea, it would go nowhere. Apparently other companies do things differently.

dbr
Posts: 30798
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by dbr » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:35 pm

smitcat wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:15 am


FWIW - our company had no incentives or budgets for patent application which did not have a specific marketable return. When we filed and later received two of our patents all of us on that team followed that technology into prototyping and then production.
The ability to move along with the patent - product life cycle served as a very valuable method to move ahead in the company and have fun while doing so.
Yes, that would be pretty typical in the work I did.

Starfish
Posts: 1460
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Patent incentive

Post by Starfish » Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:32 am

sport wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:35 am
Starfish wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:14 am
It's not very hard to produce a lot of bogus patents. I know people who have hundreds of patents (like 1 million in bonuses).
In my experience, the inventor produces a "disclosure of invention" for management. Management decides whether or not to proceed with filing for a patent. Since filing is somewhat expensive, they would only file if they felt the invention was worthwhile. If it was a bogus idea, it would go nowhere. Apparently other companies do things differently.
There are companies with a lot of patents. Most don't have any future are infringement is hard to prove but are used as an weapon. More patents you have, easier is to find your enemies infringing one.
At least this is my perception for the motivation.

It is a lit bit of an art to file patents that will go through the patent committee but are still "easy".

BlueCable
Posts: 268
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:20 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by BlueCable » Sat Dec 07, 2019 8:08 am

At my megacorp, all inventors split $1000!

User avatar
AAA
Posts: 1203
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Patent incentive

Post by AAA » Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:50 am

I once attended the talk of someone who worked at a large, well-known company. During his talk, he was asked what employees there get for filing a patent. He said they get a nominal $1 as "consideration." The questioner remarked that a friend of his at another company didn't get anything, to which the speaker replied "Now that's cheap."

To the OP: it sounds like you have nothing to lose by asking your former employer.

Post Reply