Who can register a new invention for a patent or utility model? The inventor himself or, where applicable, his employer? This question is governed by employee invention law, a German specialization that is intended to resolve the existing conflict between employment law and patent  /utility model law. Employee invention law is intended to strike an appropriate balance between the interests of employers and those of employee inventors.

According to the principles of employment law, the products of all work carried out in the course of an employment relationship belong to the employer. However, in patent and utility model law the inventor principle applies. Only the inventor or his legal successor is entitled to register an invention for a patent or utility model. Employee invention law essentially consists in enabling employers to make use of employee inventions and ensuring the employees can claim suitable remuneration.

Executives also count as employees. The termination of an employment relationship does not affect the rights and obligations arising from employee invention law with respect to inventions that were developed during the existing employment relationship. Employee inventions comprise all inventions developed by an employee during the period of an employment relationship, regardless of whether they were developed in the employee’s free time or working hours.

We can help you in this area with our longstanding expertise. We can support you with the calculation of inventor remuneration, remuneration agreements, and litigation proceedings in connection with employee inventions /inventor remuneration before the arbitration board appointed by the German Patent and Trademark Office or the civil chambers of district and higher regional courts.