On 11th February 2009, Mr Justice Floyd handed down a groundbreaking decision in the English Patents Court: the first ever court award of compensation to employee inventors under the UK Patents Act 1977. Although the judge characterised his approach as ‘conservative’, the sums were not insignificant: £1m to one inventor and £500,000 to the other.

Even more surprisingly, this was a decision under the stricter test for patents applied for prior to January 2005. The less strict test, under legislative amendments introduced in 2005, may therefore be even more likely to result in successful claims than had previously been thought. Employers can expect potential claimants to be encouraged by this development, and should bear in mind that UK employees may be entitled to compensation in respect of patent rights worldwide under the UK legislation.