Let's consider I have created a new robot it cleans the windows. A company gives me a tons! of money and I will sell it to the company and say goodbye and completely leave the project. Then after some months I have a good idea to improve the robot, or like to create a new robot based on it, or very similar to it, What do should I do? What the law is in this situation?

Can I do mass production of new version by myself?

  • 2
    That would entirely depend on the stipulations in the contact you signed as part of the deal. But assuming the company isn't run by complete morons, the contract would make it very difficult for you to pull this off, in particular if you sold some patents as part of the deal. (And if they gave you tons om money, patents were probably involved.) May 25 '18 at 13:02
  • Your invention may be worth a million dollars to the company, but it may be worthless to them if in six months you sell a better version to a competitor for a million. So they will only pay you the million dollars if you sign a contract that prevents you from doing so.
    – gnasher729
    May 26 '18 at 7:00

What does your contract say?

What it permits, you can do. What it prohibits, you can’t. What it’s ambiguous about you get to go to court and fight over.


You may be able to patent the new improvement to the robot, either alone for the improvement or as a whole robot that includes the improvement, so long as it is novel and a non-obvious improvement over the existing patent/robot.

However, you probably can't sell or use the new robot without a license to your own prior invention because your new robot almost certainly includes the patented invention related to the original robot. Thus, the patent on your robot improvement blocks your prior company from using that improvement, but doesn't allow you to practice the new invention unless you can design around the patent(s) related to the original robot or you can get a license to those patents.

  • So, if the company said "I don't like this improvements or don't like to change the robot or buy new versions licence", it means I can not do anything with my new version of robot?
    – WDR
    May 25 '18 at 13:09
  • You could potentially sue the company for patent infringement if they released a robot that includes all of the claim elements from a patent on the improvements. You could also sell the new patent to a competitor of the company.
    – KDavis
    May 25 '18 at 21:08

If the changes you've made sufficiently improve on the original invention, you would not violate patent law by producing and marketing it.

However, I'd expect a company that purchases the patent for tons of money to be a bit savvier about their agreement. I'd be careful to look out for non-competition terms in the contract, along with anything else that might bear on your ability to continue the work you'd been doing.

  • 1
    Patentability and infringement are two entirely separate questions. If the changes improve on the original invention to make them novel and non-obvious over it, then the improvement could be patentable. However, even so, if use of the improvement requires use of the original invention (as claimed by that patent), then you wouldn't be in the clear. Making or selling something that is patented violates that patent, even if you also have a patent on an aspect of it. Patents are a right to exclude others, not a permissive right for yourself. May 25 '18 at 17:15

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