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04 March 2020

Shanks v Unilever: Could this case mean that inventive employees are in line for a big pay-out?

The case of Shanks v Unilever is currently underway and has caused a stir amongst pharmaceutical companies. Professor Shanks was employed by one of Unilever’s subsidiaries and put forward a prototype of an invention in 1982 that later became widely used in the 2000s. While it has been agreed that Unilever was the owner of the patents, Shanks believed that he was entitled to some compensation for the contribution that his invention made to Unilever. This has now been escalated to The Supreme Court and their ruling could potentially lead to a significant pay-out.

Dennis Lee, Partner and Daisy Fulton, Solicitor in BDB Pitmans’ intellectual property team, discuss this in their article for Pharmaceutical Market Europe.

‘An employee is entitled to compensation from the employer [when] the employee’s invention is of “outstanding benefit” to the employer’.

The full article is available to read, here.

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