The Law on Employee Inventions
An inventor has the right to a patent or utility model for his or her invention. But what happens if an employee develops an invention? The right to the work product lies with the employer. So who owns the invention of an employee? There are special rules that regulate this potential conflict situation, in other words, how the right to a patent or utility model can be transferred to the employer and which mutual obligations arise in this regard.
The rules are different for different countries. Basically, an employee is obliged to report all inventions to his or her employer. This obligation includes in the first instance all inventions that are related to the function and duties of the employee. For inventions made during leisure time or in connection with a hobby, with a few exceptions, there is an obligation to inform the employer of the invention. Whether the employer has a right to such leisure time inventions depends on different factors which need to be examined in detail. The formalities for the transfer of inventions to the employer depend on the regulations of the respective country in which the employee is employed. The correct transfer of the rights to an invention is not only important for enforcement of rights, but also for the basic proof of being the owner of the rights to this invention. For this reason, correct documentation of the transfer of the rights made in writing is very important.
In return for the transfer of the rights to an invention, the inventor may receive extra money for the use of his invention. This remuneration may also be part of the employee's salary in some countries. In other countries, such as Germany or Austria, the remuneration must be agreed separately. The amount of remuneration is based on the commercial value of the invention and the share of the inventor to it.