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I work for an industrial research lab, which requires everybody to file 2 patents a year to achieve 100% in annual performance evaluation. Once the patent is filed, the algorithm in the patent is allowed (and is encouraged) to be published in a conference.

When I started, I signed a document saying all my inventions belong to the company. When I leave the current company, what I can do and cannot do with the patents I filed.

  1. If the algorithm in the patent is not published in a conference, can I publish it as (i) an independent researcher or (ii) an employee of another company?
  2. If the algorithm in the patent is published in a conference, can I build an (open source) tool from scratch to implement it? can I implement it for another company?
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  • Part 2 is a completely legal question and not an academic one. – user71659 Aug 22 '18 at 4:53
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    Yeah, this site isn't the place to get advice on what is or isn't legal. Can you revise your question to ask only things that can be answered by academics who are not patent attorneys? E.g. about publishing ethics. – Nate Eldredge Aug 22 '18 at 5:19
  • A good rule of thumb regarding patent law: It doesn’t matter what the law says, what matters is whether someone will come after you. Many patent suits are baseless, but it’s easier to settle than to fight. – Thomas Aug 22 '18 at 5:28
  • A patent is a monopoly on the invention, to sell or derive new products to sell. If the company owns the patent then they have the monopoly; the fact that you invented it doesn't grant you special rights to do anything. You can use it in academic research or something perhaps, as long as you never make any money from it. – A Simple Algorithm Aug 22 '18 at 17:50
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If the algorithm in the patent is not published in a conference, can I publish it as (i) an independent researcher or (ii) an employee of another company?

You most likely signed a non-disclosure agreement which will prohibit you from publishing any work product. You can ask your employer to sign a waiver permitting publication.

If the algorithm in the patent is published in a conference, can I build an (open source) tool from scratch to implement it? can I implement it for another company?

A goal of the patent system is to share knowledge in exchange for an exclusive right to exploit the invention for a limited period. It is country specific as to whether private or non-commercial use is excluded. WIPO's Exceptions and Limitations to Patent Rights: Private and/or Non Commercial Use (SCP/20/3) provides a useful starting point.


Requiring "2 patents a year" is dumb, it encourages quantity over quality.

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