At a said company, they have an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy which states all countries where that company does business (60+) they will award a 3% patent bonus (of the average salary where the patent is filed) on filing of a patent.
After a commercialisation period (2 years), in some countries they will pay significant bonuses (royalties).
The ethical dilemmas are two-fold:
1) Is it ethical to pay a person in say India a tiny bonus - even if the argument given by the said company is it represents value for that person in that country, the same value it would represent for someone in the US based on what their salary buys.
2) Is it ethical to only pay the significant bonuses to some countries where those countries have IP Law that states - ''It has been suggested that it is somewhat more sympathetic to rights owner interests rather than user interests;'' from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_Australia
For companies in Australia, USA, UK, NZ, Ireland and a host of other countries the IP sides on the employer. Where individual employment contracts state that all IP is owned by the company 24 x 7, therefore any invention is owned by the company, and you are employed by the said company, so no further royalties need to be paid.
However in other countries where the IP law is not so well defined, where the relative pay for a job might be higher, with better benefits to employees, royalties are paid in full.
Where innovation is directly related to a job someone does and is paid for that is one thing, but ideas out of work environment, or in other interest areas not covered by the job one does - is caught by the catch-all IP Law as a blanket policy, and this does not seem to be very fair.
Also the IP Law sets a minimum stance, the said company need not stick to this. They could have a blanket policy - that is consistent across all the companies that they operate in, to provide a desire to innovate, as a consistent motivation for everyone regardless of their job function or interests.
Some organisations - the most successful ones pay beyond the minimums stated by the draconic country IPR law model: e.g.: IBM which generates near on $5 billion USD from licensing on their patents every year. They reward their innovative staff in different ways, all significant, i.e. doubling of base salaries (one example). Stanford university has a different policy is awards inventors, could be staff, could be students, 33.33% of the gross profits the invention produces. EDS the company I used to work for offered a million dollar bounty for every invention that created a billion dollars of new income within 2 years of patent being filed, i.e. 0.1% but it was a consistent carrot across all peoples, all countries, and it was paid in US dollars a standard currency. (Ethical and Fair).
The said company has stated that innovation is vital to its existence, and wants to dramatically increase the numbers of patents filed, and licensing revenue from these patents while reducing R&D headcount.