Imagine a world where when you leave a job, instead of telling you to pack your desk, they tell you to:
… deposit your ideas at the door before passing through the brain scanner to make sure you aren’t taking any ideas with you. And don’t forget to leave any thoughts you brought with you from home this morning; they are now company property.
For those not in the know, the creator of the very popular Bratz doll thought up the idea while working at Mattel (producers of Barbie). At the time, she was under an employment contract that made any ideas she had property of Mattel. As an aspiring entrepreneur who has signed a similar (though more limited) contract myself, the idea is scary. In fact, the fight between employer and employee for intellectual property might be the legal battle of our time.
Why innovate if your company will take it from you? In this case, some manager at Mattel didn’t see the potential of the doll, the creator believed in it so took the risk of starting her own firm and bringing the product to market. Now that it’s a success, Mattel wants back in? In this future, to be innovative you will you need to avoid the corporate world entirely. Why would Mattel want an injunction against a successful product they have the rights to? If the creator took all the risk of realizing the product design and making it a hit, should Mattel get all the credit after the fact? Will the supreme court become involved? This is a case worth watching.
Are we entering a world where our corporations will be allowed to steal our creative product? To attack our imaginations?