Employees, ex-employees and consultants - who owns their inventions?

Employment relationships are more fluid and complex than they used to be. The traditional model of a long-term employee paid to do inventive work throughout their career is less common than it once was. Research scientists and software developers may transition between employed status and consultancy, and often then go on to establish their own businesses. This can lead to real uncertainty as to the ownership of their inventions.

A recent court case between a software engineer and his former employer highlights the issues. Mark Pearce considers the case and what it means for employers and individuals here.

Our content explained

Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

Posted by


Mills & Reeve Sites navigation
A tabbed collection of Mills & Reeve sites.
My Mills & Reeve navigation
Subscribe to, or manage your My Mills & Reeve account.
My M&R


Register for My M&R to stay up-to-date with legal news and events, create brochures and bookmark pages.

Existing clients

Log in to your client extranet for free matter information, know-how and documents.


Mills & Reeve system for employees.