A few days ago Turner Classic Movies (TCM) played "Edison, the Man". I watched the movie with interest. And what have I seen ?
Edison comes to New York and gets hired by Gold and Stock telegraph company to work on creating a stock ticker. The company pays him salary, provides materials and tools. Eventually Edison invents the device and files for patent. The managers offer him to buy this patent. He does not know what to ask and the managers first offer him $20,000. He remains silent. Then $30,000. He remains silent. And finally $40,000 at which point Edison regains the faculty of speech and promptly agrees. After receiving the money he quits the company and builds the first world R&D facility "Menlo Park", which gives birth to electrical bulb, electrical lighting of cities, phonograph, etc.
I disbelieved what I saw on the screen of TV and rushed to the computer to verify the information. But it turned out to be correct. Chapter VII of "Edison, His Life and Inventions" by Frank Lewis Dyer describes the episode as follows:
General Lefferts, as President of the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company, requested Edison to go to work on improving the stock ticker, furnishing the money; and the well-known "Universal" ticker, in wide-spread use in its day, was one result. Mr. Edison gives a graphic picture of the startling effect on his fortunes: "I made a great many inventions; one was the special ticker used for many years outside of New York in the large cities. This was made exceedingly simple, as they did not have the experts we had in New York to handle anything complicated. The same ticker was used on the London Stock Exchange. After I had made a great number of inventions and obtained patents, the General seemed anxious that the matter should be closed up. One day I exhibited and worked a successful device whereby if a ticker should get out of unison in a broker's office and commence to print wild figures, it could be brought to unison from the central station, which saved the labor of many men and much trouble to the broker. He called me into his office, and said: 'Now, young man, I want to close up the matter of your inventions. How much do you think you should receive?' I had made up my mind that, taking into consideration the time and killing pace I was working at, I should be entitled to $5000, but could get along with $3000. When the psychological moment arrived, I hadn't the nerve to name such a large sum, so I said: 'Well, General, suppose you make me an offer.' Then he said: 'How would $40,000 strike you?' This caused me to come as near fainting as I ever got. I was afraid he would hear my heart beat. I managed to say that I thought it was fair. 'All right, I will have a contract drawn; come around in three days and sign it, and I will give you the money.' I arrived on time, but had been doing some considerable thinking on the subject. The sum seemed to be very large for the amount of work, for at that time I determined the value by the time and trouble, and not by what the invention was worth to others. I thought there was something unreal about it. However, the contract was handed to me. I signed without reading it."
Thus, had not the company paid Edison the astronomical sum for the inventions he made while in its employ, there would have been no Menlo Park and all what it produced: electrical light, phonograph etc. This is in the stark contrast to the current practices of compelling all employees to sign in advance that any inventions and discoveries they might make during their employment would belong to the employer. Apparently in the times of Edison employers were "stupid" enough to not require the prospective employees to sign such a rights transfer agreement prior to the starting date. On the other hand, that is probably why innovation flourished those days.
The current practices apparently killed Edisons. Against this backdrop teaching TRIZ to corporate talent looks pretty ridiculous and hypocritical. Is it not better to legislatively declare all agreements between employers and employees about rights assignment before invention is made and patent is issued as having no legal force ? Is it not better to introduce the innovators' bill of rights ?