Employees’ inventions

Technical inventions which an employee makes and which are related to his professional activity are usually the property of the employer. In return, the employee is entitled to appropriate remuneration. If the employer has no interest in exploiting the invention he must release the invention to the employee who can then freely market his invention.

An employee invention or a job-related invention is an invention which is, in principle, protectable and which an employee has made within the scope of his job obligation. The Employee Invention Act (ArbEG) regulates which claims arise for the employee and also for the employer. According to the law, the employer is generally entitled to the rights to the job-related invention while the employee is entitled to be remunerated as compensation.

What does the employee have to do once he has made a job-related invention?

Ein Arbeitnehmer, der eine technische Erfindung macht, muss diese seinem Arbeitgeber unverzüglich und in Textform melden. Sollten mehrere Arbeitnehmer an einer Erfindung beteiligt sein, genügt allerdings eine gemeinsame Meldung.

Der Arbeitgeber hat den Eingang der Meldung unverzüglich und in Textform zu bestätigen, Anschließend hat der Arbeitgeber die Möglichkeit, binnen 4 Monaten dem Arbeitnehmer zu erklären, ob er die Erfindung freigibt oder für sich bzw. sein Unternehmen beansprucht. Sollte der Arbeitgeber den Arbeitnehmer nicht informieren, geht die Erfindung gemäß Arbeitnehmererfindergesetz automatisch an den Arbeitgeber über.

Wird die Erfindung allerdings fristgerecht vom Arbeitgeber freigegeben, gehört die Erfindung ausschließlich dem Arbeitnehmer und dieser kann seine Erfindung dann unbeschränkt nutzen.

What happens to the invention if the employer does not release it, but claims it for himself, or respectively, for his company?

If the employer claims the employee invention for himself, all rights to the invention and all economic achievements are transferred to the employer.

As a rule, the employer is then obliged to file a technical property right application, a patent and/or a utility model.

What claims does the employee have against the employer if the employer does not release the invention?

As compensation, however, the employee is entitled to an appropriate remuneration. Further information on the exact calculation of remuneration can be found in remuneration guidelines. The remuneration depends, among other things, on the tasks and the position of the inventor in the company, the economic exploitability of the invention and the company’s share in the creation of the technical invention.

In a case where there are several inventors, it is quite possible that the remuneration will be different for each inventor depending on his individual position in the company.

Usually, the employer is then obliged to file a technical protective right application, i.e. a patent application or a utility model application.

Have you made an invention while at work? Or have some of your employees invented something at work? Call us, we are glad to provide advice.

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