What is employee invention law?
The law of employee inventions is a German peculiarity which must be dealt with carefully. When implemented properly, it helps to motivate employees, but when used thoughtless it can bring about the opposite effect. The purpose of the German Employee Inventors Act is to bring about a reasonable reconciliation between the interests of the employers and those of employee inventors by allocating rights and obligations in a balanced manner. The Act proceeds on the basis of the ‘inventor principle’, pursuant to which the inventor in principle owns the rights over an invention. However, the employee has an obligation to report to his or her employer each invention that he or she makes during the employment relationship, and to assign the invention to the employer where required. The employer has the opportunity to claim or release such inventions, which are known as ‘service inventions’.
How it works in practice?
The internal measures ensuring that inventions are correctly transferred from employees to the employer must be prepared carefully and must be monitored. Determining the level of remuneration for an employee invention can be difficult. As a consequence of the comprehensive guidance we have provided to many domestic and foreign companies in questions relating to the law of employee inventions, we have gained a valuable wealth of experience and have developed tools which can be used to reduce these complex statutory provisions to a small number of actions and questions. In addition, we are regularly instructed to provide opinions on matters relating to the law of employee inventions for international corporations. The many publications that we have issued on this subject provide the best evidence of our firm’s expertise in this area.
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