16. What does the Employee Inventions Act stipulate?
The Employee Inventions Act (ArbEG) governs the rights and obligations of the employee and employer if the employee makes an invention. There are special regulations here for inventors at universities. A “job-related invention” (service invention) exists if an invention was generated from activity at the university or is based on experience from such activity (section 4(2) ArbEG). Job-related inventions are definitely notifiable, belong to the employer, the university, and may be subject to a patent application by university with the obligation to remunerate the inventor. This includes inventions from secondary employment activities and externally-funded research. All other inventions of the employee in a completely different territory are “free inventions,” and notification obligation to the employer exists for them (sections 18, 19 ArbEG). Students without an employment relationship with the university are free inventors and may freely dispose of their invention. Since February 7, 2002, the university has been able to utilize the inventions of all employees due to the amendment of section 42 of the Employee Inventions Act. Since February 7, 2002, inventors have been entitled to reasonable remuneration (section 42.4 ArbEG) at a rate of 30% of gross exploitation income. In case there are several inventors, the inventor remuneration is split. With remuneration of 30%, inventors from the higher education sector are significantly better positioned than employees from industry.