The UK Supreme Court in Shanks v Unilever has overruled the Comptroller of Patents, the High Court and the Court of Appeal to rule that an employee inventor is due to 5% of the benefit received by his employer from his inventions. The Supreme Court clarified that, in the case of group companies, the relevant company is the actual employer not the wider group. The lower Courts had ruled that a £24.5m benefit from the inventions was "simply dwarfed" by the turnover and profits of the group as a whole. However, the Supreme Court found that, the correct approach in the case of research facilities is to look at the benefit of the patent to the wider group in comparison with the benefits from other patents arising from that research facility. This will have implications for multi-national companies when they come to structure an organisation and decide where to base their R&D.
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