Groves v Canasonics Inc., 2015 ABQB 314

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta was asked to decide the ownership of patent rights as between an employer and an employee.

The employment agreement between the plaintiff and his defendant employer had a condition providing all rights to intellectual property were assigned to the employer. As an invention was patented, they were assigned to the employer in each case for “one dollar and other good and valuable consideration”. The plaintiff was terminated and sought ownership over the patents.

The Court had difficulty accepting the plaintiff’s testimony and so decided the case without that testimony. It was argued that the plaintiff’s salary was never fully paid, and so there was no other good and valuable consideration and hence, the assignments are of no force and effect. The Court noted that the assignments stated that he acknowledged receipt of the consideration, and so future unpaid salary could not be interpreted to be the consideration. The Court also did not find that the contract was rescinded and thus the ownership would return to the plaintiff. Rather, the contract is still in place and the plaintiff may have a claim for damages for unpaid wages, but that was not necessary to determine.

The Court held the employer retained the assigned rights to the IP.