The Law on Employee Inventions in Germany
In terms of the Law on Employee Inventions (ArbErfG) the employee in Germany is obliged to report his invention to the employer. The employer may within two months check the completeness of the invention disclosure and challenge the disclosure. The employer must make a decision on exercising or releasing the rights to the invention within four months. The right to an employee invention is transferred to the employer by asserting a claim to the invention. This assertion should preferably be documented in writing, although since a change in the law a few years ago, it is not longer necessary to make a written claim once the invention has been filed as a patent application.
The employer must keep the inventor informed about the progress of the examination procedure and decisions if applications abroad will not be pursued. By paying an additional remuneration, the employer can buy up these information rights from the inventor. This buyout of the rights of the inventor can significantly simplify the handling of claimed employee inventions.
The inventor is remunerated for the exploitation of the invention. The amount depends on a variety of factors under which the invention was developed and try to give the employee inventor a share in the commercial success of the exploitation of his invention.
Unlike in many other countries, the rights to inventions cannot be regulated by a blanket agreement in the inventorâ€™s employment contract. German law stipulates that a separate agreement with the inventor is only possible after the invention disclosure has been filed.
In Germany the employer is required after the claiming the invention to file the invention in Germany as a patent or utility model. It is possible to file the application as long as the inventor agrees and a German patent application is filed later. In case of commercial exploitation of the service invention, the employer owes the employee inventor compensation for using the invention.
If the employer no longer wants to maintain a patent or utility model, the employee must offer the patent or utility model to the inventor. These obligations to offer, as well as calculating the remuneration of inventions which are not used or only slightly used, represent a high administrative burden. Many companies have achieved wh considerable savings by introducing in-house incentive schemes to replace the administrative burden.