When is a professor a free inventor?
In German universities inventions were free if the inventor had a special privilege called “Hochschullehrerprivileg”, which usually existed if he was a professor. However the old Employee Invention Law (“Arbeitnehmererfindergesetz”) was revised. Since 2nd July 2002 professors are no longer privileged in this way. Each invention made after 2nd July 2002 must be reported to the employer immediately in a separate written notice in text form, also by professors.
Like other inventors professors are free inventors,
- if they are not developed within the scope of an employment
- if they are not based on experiences, which are the basis of or shared with an employment.
The employee must report a free invention (“freie Erfindung”) to his employer immediately in a separate written notice in text form. The employee has to describe he invention and, if necessary, he has to report so much about the origin so that the employer can decide if the invention is free.
Furthermore, service inventions (“Diensterfindung”) are free if the employer does not claim the service invention. When a service invention becomes free the employee can use it without restrictions.