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Employee Invention Law

The rights in inventions made by employees have an important place in patent law. This is because more than 90 percent of all inventions in respect of which a patent application is filed stem from employees. These so-called service inventions cover all those innovations that have their origin in the particular employee’s work or the experience acquired in the course of his or her work with the company.

According to the German Employee Inventions Act (Arbeitnehmererfindungsgesetz, ArbnErfG), every employee inventor has in principle an obligation to immediately report a service invention to the employer. The employer may either assert his right to the invention or may waive his claim. If he does not waive his claim within four months after receiving the invention report, the invention will be deemed to have been claimed by the employer. In such a case, the employee is entitled to suitable remuneration.

Companies wishing to encourage innovative activity in their employees can achieve this by means of a system of company incentives. On behalf of our clients, we design legally compliant reporting systems and streamlined remuneration schemes (e.g. incentives, rights purchase agreements, all‑in remuneration). We also help our clients in calculating exact inventor remuneration amounts, mediate between employee inventors and employers in cases of disagreement and, if necessary, conduct arbitration proceedings before the German Patent and Trademark Office’s arbitration board, or bring legal proceedings before the ordinary courts.

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