The ostensible purpose of the "employment patent agreement" which destroys basic American ingenuity

The ongoing awareness increase in difficulties here in America, and abroad, ought to suggest there are severe problems in the system; here is one such long-standing problem and possible solutions for it.

Some folks may say just throw money at the corporations and magically all will be well again. If corporations, along with smaller businesses, are supposed to solve all our problems, perhaps there needs to be some stipulations on their businesses, at least in the aggregate so as to get the system problems repaired and life back to acceptable forms again. Regulations as to the conduct of business, in other words, above and beyond current ones in place, that can reach into the operation of those businesses a bit more than now done, permitted ways of doing business such that then the businesses are let run to the motive of maximizing profit at all costs, and the system will still work overall.

Several possible changes to the rules of conduct of operations come to mind, having lived through employment in a variety of businesses and corporations.

One problem that has been in the works for many decades that damages the larger system is the practice of the corporation claiming automatic ownership of all of employees' new spontaneous ideas that come up, including those which are not part of their assigned tasks, or even of slightest company field of interest; currently thorough so-called "patent agreements or "employment agreements" that claim all of the ideas of employees belong to the employer, even though the employer did nothing to request those specific ideas or pay for them since not part of paid job, does not have to compensate the employee for those ideas, nor are required to develop and product the products enabled by those ideas for the use by the customer in the large system.

Such ideas thus are currently killed on the spot, by this corporate standard practice. Since almost everybody has to be employed, their employer, thus nearly everybody has their idea-producing capacity thusly strangled; this has been going on for at least the past 40 years, and the loss of that native ingenuity has cost this nation incredibly. The purpose of the "employment patent agreement" is ostensibly to prevent the employees from inventing something on the job in the performance of doing their assigned job, but not telling employer about it and then going out to establish a rival business, "stealing" the idea from the company. Yet in reality, the employers have been stealing the ideas from the employees thereby, when the company is not paying salary to the employee for the purpose of producing ideas beyond those that might be needed in some job positions to solve the problems needed by the specific assigned task. If an employee is hired to actually produce blue sky ideas and are paid accordingly, then the ideas are then property of the employer, of course; but few are paid to do that kind of job, and they usually are PhD's getting an impressive salary and corporate benefits.

The vast majority of employees do not fit that role, however. People often just come up with ideas, any time of day or night, the mind ever busy with problem solving of the larger life's questions. Strangling the contribution of these ideas to the larger system is a major handicap to a country priding herself on ingenuity's solutions to what is needed. Not all people, even scientists and engineers, produce lots of ideas, but more nearly use their education's knowledge applied to do the routine tasks established by the corporate management. Thus the banishment of the "employment patent agreements" as applied to anything but the ideas produced for the performance of their paid-for specific duties, would hopefully solve this long-standing err in the permitted modes of conducting business in this country.

Enforcement would be a problem; California passed a law with that intent in the early 1980s but the corporation refused to obey and no employee could afford to challenge the wealth-hired legal support of the corporations, nor would the employee want to lose their job thereby. I was one of those who meekly tried to question through "clarification" back then, and got called into the director's office who also had the corporate head lawyer there who promptly told me "that is not the way it is done" and I was ushered out of the office. And soon reassigned to another department.

I have paid particular attention to this problem during my employed decades, as I have always been a person who comes up with lots of ideas spontaneously; some were freely offered to employers and one even got may name on a patent. But the vast majority of ideas I had were not related to what I did on the job, or even fields of interest to what I was paid to do usually in some engineering support technician tasks, a niche which often would utilize my ability to solve the non-standard problems. Some fellow technicians told me angrily that they would not give the employer and idea spontaneously because of the very unfair "employment patent agreement" had to sign to get a job, even though it was robbing the employee, he had to work for somebody and all companies had the same agreement requirement. People resent the strangling of their ideas that would be helpful for people.

Corporations, however, are run from the top down and management has a specific task and need no loose cannons down in the ranks doing anything but working to get the visioned corporate purpose to happen, and in a way for maximum profit; whether these managers are aware that the "employment agreement requirement for employment is also preventing surprises in potentially rivaling technologies from happening, I don't know; but it would not surprise me if the idea-strangulation was seen as a way of stability for the business and in aggregate for those who are businessmen mentality, not technical mentality.

This would need to be done industry-wide, since, analogous to the banning of putting MSG into prepared foods, everybody has to do the same change at the same time, to make it fair and effective.


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