Extra compensation for inventive employees: is our system equitable, unbiased and motivating?

Claire Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a presumption that invention is good. It provides us with innovative goods, services and ways of doing things leading to greater employment, wealth and health. This article looks at the two recent UK cases regarding statutory extra compensation that may be awarded to employee inventors under the Patents Act 1977. Most universities worldwide and many companies have individual inventor reward schemes. Researchers now work in teams made up of both industry and academic researchers who are often based in different countries where different legal regimes apply. Is leaving the decision to award employees extra financial compensation up to individual companies unfair, unequal and de-motivating? Is having differing legislative systems in different European countries counter productive and a barrier to economic growth? There must be a balance between the inventor and the innovator. Do we have it right and if not what should it be?

Legislation: Patents Act 1977 s.39 , s.40 , s.41

Cases: Kelly v GE Healthcare Ltd [2009] EWHC 181 (Pat); [2009] R.P.C. 12 (Ch D (Patents Ct)) Shanks v Unilever Plc [2010] EWCA Civ 1283; [2011] R.P.C. 12 (CA (Civ Div))
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-389
Number of pages19
JournalIntellectual Property Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • compensation
  • patents
  • employees' inventions


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