If my husband made me a tool to make my job easier, does it belong to my employer?

UPDATED: Apr 6, 2012

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If my husband made me a tool to make my job easier, does it belong to my employer?

I have carpel tunnel and my husband is a machinest. He made me a simple tool to help my job be less painful and now that I have left that employer they are threatening me with legal action if I don’t return the tool my husband made.

Asked on April 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If YOU had made the tool, it would almost certainly belong to your employer. But assuming your husband neither worked for them nor was commissioned by them to create this tool, the employer would seem to have no right to it.

You should speak with an intellectual property attorney immediately. Not only can that attorney confirm, based on a thorough, detailed review of all the facts, whether there is any potential liability at all to the employer, but more importantly, your husband may have made something of real value--that is probably why the employer wants it. There are many people with carpal tunnel; if your husband's invention is easy to produce and helps any appreciable percentage of carpal tunnel sufferers, you may have something that you should protect by patent and then either create and sell yourself or license to someone else to manufacture. Good luck.

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