A large number of patentable technical inventions are created under employment contracts and are designated as “employee inventions”, accordingly. Due to the close relation between the invention and the employing company of the inventor, the company has the right to claim the invention for itself. In contrast, the full rights to a “free invention” remain with the employee who may determine at his own discretion if and how the invention shall be used.
The Law on Employees’ Inventions (Arbeitnehmererfindungsgesetz, ArbNErfG) aims at balancing the interests of the employer and the employee when the latter developed a patentable invention within the boundaries of his employment contract. Thus, if the employer claims the invention for itself, the inventor has the right to an appropriate amount of compensation. The amount itself is generally calculated based on the Guidelines for Determining Compensation for Employees’ Inventions.
In case of a dispute between the employer and the employee inventor with regard to an employee’s invention, for instance when determining the appropriate amount of compensation as mentioned above, the Board of Arbitration for Employees’ Inventions at the German Patent and Trademark Office can be called upon for mediation and settlement. In a lot of cases, a proceeding before the Board of Arbitration is a prerequisite for a following court proceeding.
The patent law firm Meyer-Dulheuer MD Legal Patentanwälte PartG mbB possesses extensive expertise in the field of employees’ inventions, enabling us to provide counsel to both, the company and the employee, regarding all questions in relation to the Law on Employees’ Inventions. We may also assist you in drafting an appropriate inventor´s compensation agreement. Also, we will be glad to represent your interests both before the Board of Arbitration and in a court proceeding should the latter become necessary.