English Court Analyses Test Applicable in UK Patent Ownership Disputes Between Employers and Employees-in a Dispute about US Patents

February 06, 2008
A recent case involving a US patent application examined the UK law relating to the ownership of inventions developed by employees. The inventions in issue in LIFFE Administration and Management v Pavel Pinkava and others were new methods of electronically trading various types of swaps and other derivative products by having them mimic the structure of futures. They are non-patentable “business methods” under UK law. The Court of Appeal found that the employer owned the invention and in doing so analysed the test set out in section 39(1)(a) of the UK Patents Act 1977 which sets out the non-avoidable rules to be applied in UK disputes between employers and employees over patent ownership (even for foreign patents). This article discusses this decision.