On appeal from: [2017] EWCA Civ 2.

This appeal concerned an employee at Unilever UK Central Resources Ltd. who, whilst there, conceived an invention, the rights to which belonged to CRL under the Patents Act 1977. CRL assigned those rights to Unilever plc for £100. Unilever was later granted various patents relating to the invention. Over time, Unilever derived a net benefit from the Shanks patents of approximately £24.3 million. The employee applied for compensation under section 40 of the 1977 Act on the basis that the Shanks patents had been of outstanding benefit to CRL and that he was entitled to a fair share of that benefit.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal. It held that an employee who makes an invention which belongs to his or her employer from the outset and for which a patent has been granted is entitled to compensation if he or she establishes: first, that the patent is, having regard among other things to the size and nature of the employer’s undertaking, of outstanding benefit to the employer; and secondly, that, by reason of these matters, it is just that he or she be awarded compensation.

For judgment, please download: [2019] UKSC 45
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website (7 Feburary 2019 morning session, 8 February 2019 morning session, 8 February 2019 afternoon session.)