Guangdong court guides GBA employment cases

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The Guangdong High People’s Court recently announced 20 typical cross-jurisdiction civil cases in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA). Two of them (cases 10 and 11) are employment law-related.

Case 10 deals with remuneration for employee inventions. The employee was a resident of mainland China and had been working in a Guangzhou company since 1999. During his service with the company, he created an invention related to door locks.

In December 2003, the Guangzhou company’s affiliated company, a Hong Kong company, applied for invention patents in the US for the invention completed by the employee, and was granted a patent authorization in 2007. The

Hong Kong company used the patent to manufacture products in mainland China through the Guangzhou company, and exported the products to the US for sale. The employee filed a lawsuit claiming US$430,000 for remuneration for the employee invention.

The Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court held in the first instance that, since the employee’s invention activities took place in China, it would be unconscionable for the employee invention remuneration rules under PRC law not to be applicable simply because the patent is a US patent.

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