As bright, young startups expand to become established market players, intellectual property management should be part of the discussion each time they extend an offer of employment to a new hire. Far too many companies, according to Corporate Counsel, don't realize the intellectual capital they have invested in an employee until that worker moves on to another opportunity.
In an interview with the news source, former Motorola and Siemens in-house attorney William Wilson suggested that the beginning of any employment period presents a "golden opportunity" for setting expectations as to what knowledge staffers will be entrusted with and how they should protect it. In fact, a lack of due diligence early on could make it exceedingly difficult for companies to defend their ideas in future infringement cases.
Some employers have even begun requiring individuals to sign non-disclosure agreements during pre-employment interviews. According to Corporate Counsel, this is especially true in high-stakes negotiations that require companies to divulge certain confidential details to help the applicant make a more informed decision.
Such discretion could be particularly important as U.S. companies prepare for the transition to a first to file system brought on by the America Invents Act. If a former employee decides to file a patent application for an invention that his or her previous employer never publicly disclosed, that company could face an uphill battle in winning back the rights to its original ideas.