Employees’ Inventions

Our experience in the processing of matters concerning the German Act on Employees’ Invention (ArbEG) result from a long-standing activity in the industrial sector and from the participation in the Arbitration Board under the Act of Employees’ Inventions established at the German Patent and Trademark Office. Therefore, we can advise you in all problematic situations and represent you in the proceedings concerned. In addition, we particularly help smaller and medium-size companies (KMU) to organize internal processes of their companies such that they conform to the regulations of the ArbEG (Act of Employees’ Inventions). This results usually in an innovation-friendly atmosphere in-house that has a positive effect on the patent portfolio of the company so that its competitiveness can be improved.

On behalf of our clients we regularly check the employee inventor´s claim for remuneration. In the event of sick a claim, we identify the different factors and then calculate the remuneration.

In connection with the treatment of employees’ inventions in the companies, we advise that it is not permissible to waive the provisions of the law to the disadvantage of the employee outright (§ 22 ArbEG). These would be cases in which, for example, existing regulations of the company in the form of internal guidelines discriminate the employee inventor as compared to the rules of the ArbEG from the very beginning. Such regulations are improper.

In so far as employees’ inventions and the pertinent existing legal provisions are concerned, we can also advise our clients how inventions made by employees at foreign locations are to be treated. The legal provisions for the transfer of rights to the employer and possible remuneration claims abroad differ a great deal from one another.

Further information

The provisions of the German Act on Employees’ Inventions (ArbEG) are applicable to inventions made by employees, civil servants and soldiers during their employment or service. Inventions are only such developments that can lead to a patent or a registered utility model. According to the provisions of the ArbEG, the term "employees" not only comprises the already mentioned persons but also trainees, apprentices, re-trained workers and, under certain conditions, even contract workers. Under certain conditions employees sent abroad (so-called ex-patriats) are also governed by the ArbEG. According to the ArbEG, special rules apply to employees of universities.

Seen as a whole, the law regulates the legal relationship between an employee who makes an invention and his employer. One of the principles of the law is that an invention that was developed during the employment of the work relationship is assigned to the company or to the service office of the employer, if the invention originated from activities incumbent upon the employee or was mainly based on experience and operations of the company.

In this case the employee has a duty to report, i.e. is obliged to report the invention to his employer, without delay and separately, in text form. The employer can lay claim to the invention within the term set in the ArbEG. The law further regulates, among other things, the duty of the employer to apply for legal protection domestically, his right to foreign-country applications, the abandonment of protective rights and the employee remuneration which to be determined in conjunction with the Guidelines for the Remuneration of Employee Inventions in Private Service. Remuneration due the employee is to be calculated by the employer and paid to the employee if the invention has led to an economic benefit in the company of the employer.

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