What terms do I include in employment contracts to protect my intellectual property?
For an employer to protect its intellectual property in relation to its employees, every employment contract should deal with the following 6 essential terms.
|Ownership of intellectual property||That intellectual property created by the employee in the course of the employee's employment, or in relation to a certain field, is owned by the employer.|
|Signing documents to record the employer's ownership of intellectual property|
That the employee will sign any document that the employer reasonably requires (such as a deed of assignment) to record the employer's ownership of the intellectual property created by the employee in the course of employment.
This obligation needs to continue during the employment relationship, as well as after the employment relationship has ended. It may be necessary, for example, for an employee to sign patent application documents after the employment relationship comes to an end.
That in relation to the employer's confidential information the employee will:
|Scope of confidential information|
The scope of the employer's confidential information subject to those obligations needs to be broad, and include:
|Waiver of moral rights||That the employee waives the employee's moral rights in relation to any works in which copyright subsists (such as computer programs).|
|Restraint on competition|
Some employment contracts include a restraint on competition.
Such a restraint operates to restrain a former employee from competing with the employer, for an agreed duration, over a specified geographical area.
If the extent or scope of the restraint is too broad, operates for too long, or operates over too large a geographical area, the restraint will be invalid, and the employee will not be bound by it.
But to the extent that the restraint is reasonable, operates for a reasonable period, and over a reasonable area, it will be valid.
These restraint obligations need to apply not just during the employment relationship, but also after it ends.
- Last reviewed: 26 Sep 2020
- Last updated: 13 Jun 2016
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