EMPLOYEE INVENTIONS AND IDEAS
Washington law explicitly allows employers to require employees to assign patents “directly related to the business of the employer” or “to the employer’s actual or demonstrably anticipated research and development” even if the employee develops the inventions on his or her time and without employer resources. To obtain a valid assignment of an employee’s inventions, however, the employer must provide a specific written notification contained in the statute, RCW 49.44.140(3). If the invention assignment lacks the required notification, the assignment or grant will be void. Under Washington law, even if the employer failed to require employees to assign their patents, the employer may still have a right to an employee’s invention because employees are bound by common law to assign patents to their employers.