The Court’s decision rested on whether the patents provided outstanding benefit to the employer’s undertaking.
On 23 October, the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) handed down its highly anticipated ruling in Shanks v Unilever  UKSC 45 — the conclusion to an extensive campaign by Professor Shanks to obtain compensation for an invention he created in 1982, during the course of his employment with Unilever. The UKSC upheld Shanks’ appeal from the lower courts and in a unanimous decision ruled that Shanks was entitled to £2 million compensation from Unilever.
Section 40 of the Patents Act 1977 (the Act) makes provision for the payment of compensation to employee inventors in certain circumstances. Namely, where the employee makes an invention for which a patent has been granted and that patent is considered to be of outstanding benefit to the employer (taking into account things such as the size and nature of the employer’s undertaking), the court may award the employee compensation in the form of a fair share of the benefit received by the employer from the patents, with the amount determined under Section 41 of the Act.