I work for a software company. I have the beginnings of an idea of, what I believe will be, a patentable algorithm. I don't know yet if it will actually be accepted, but anyway, won't know until I try...
If I do come up with a working algorithm/code, I would like to let my employers know that I created this, and want them to handle patenting it (if they deem it worthy). Generally, what are the steps I need to follow to let my employer know that I have this algorithm that I want patented by the company (in the United States)? I know each company has it's own set of procedures, etc., but, I'm just looking for pointers in the right direction.
The reason I want to involve my employer, is because I'm bound by contract to do so, and also, because that takes away a lot of the expenses involved. And, of course, they have a legal team on payroll (presumably), just for this purpose.
The company is not too small, but no, I don't have any access, or even visibility, to the 'big' bosses like the CEO, etc. (yes, I've heard of email, but let's assume that the CEO probably has filters to weed out mails by lowly people such as myself :-) ) The only people I have access to are three levels of management above me (manager, manager's manager, manager's manager's manager). I suppose I could even get in touch with the HR team, if that's what's required. As you can see, I have no idea about this, and don't even know where to begin or whom to contact.
Even though I'm contractually obliged to 'immediately disclose any inventions' to the company, with 'no expectations of receiving additional compensation', I still want to monetize this as much as possible (perhaps a pay hike/bonus, promotion, etc.). In view of this, I would like to avoid handing this out to my immediate manager and the manager's manager, since I believe this would lead to this effort either being throttled at the source, or worse, presented to the 'big' bosses as some idea that they came up with ('team effort', etc.). It may be possible for me to prove otherwise, but I don't want to go down that path. I believe presenting this directly to the person three levels above me would be best in the interests of furthering my career.
Preferably, I'm looking for answers from people who have actually done this before, so that I know what (not) to do.
PS: Let's not argue about whether algorithms are patentable or not...my company has a few of them already, so I know it's possible.