Große Ideen brauchen Flügel, müssen sich aber auch auf Fußmärsche gefasst machen. Karl-Heinz Karius

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Alan Kay



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Law on employees' inventions

After completing creative (technical) work it is great to receive financial reward and the inventor is satisfied or very satisfied ... However, if the expectations of the inventor cannot be satisfied, his wishes are confined by the Law on employees' inventions to create a balance of interests between him and the employer.

Pursuant to the German Law on employee's inventions (created in 1957, updated in 2004 and finally in 2009), a creator (inventor) has the right to his own invention.

If the inventor is also an employee, his invention (in this case it is a "job invention") can nevertheless be claimed by the employer. The employed inventor is obligated to make the employer aware of his "in job invention". By claiming the invention, the employer now owns the invention. The claim to the invention is deemed to be declared (= pronounced) if the employer does not free the invention to the employee within a period of four months after receipt of a textual (e-mail, facsimile, paper) notice to the employer, explaining the invention. Therefore: the reported invention is deemed to be claimed if it is not set free. This was implemented in 2009 to simplify handling (so-called "administrative expense").

Simply by way of the invention being reported, the employer is obligated to apply for the job invention in Germany. When this (job bound) invention is being commercialised, the employee inventor will receive adequate suitable remuneration from his employer, which provides the balance of interests. If the employer no longer wishes to maintain the resulting IP right, he must avail the employed inventor of the opportunity to continue using this right on his own, but may withhold a single license right.

Conflicts in the Law on employees' inventions arise mostly when the employed inventor believes that he has not received sufficient remuneration. This is where the arbitration board of the DPMA comes in. It mediates in disputes between employees and employers. The recommendations of the arbitration board can have an effect comparable to that of a court judgement, but are free of costs.

Last updated 8 January 2014

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