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Employee-Inventors Compensation In Germany— Burden Or Incentive?

By Sebastian Wündisch

Introduction In Germany, around 80 to 90 percent of all inventions are created by employees.1 This leads to a conflict between the German principles of employment law and patent law. According to employment-law principles, the results of work are the property of the employer; the salary compensates the employee for all assigned rights and benefits.2 Under German patent law, however, the right to an invention arises first of all in the natural person of the employee (inventor principle). To settle this tension, the German Act on Employees’ Inventions created a comprehensive set of rules back in 1957. Under the Act, the employer can acquire the rights to employee inventions on a case by case basis only; in return, the employee is mandatorily entitled to reasonable compensation for each single invention achieved.

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