Journal Article

Co-ownership of patents under German law

Joachim Feldges and Birgit Kramer

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 2, issue 11, pages 742-749
Published in print November 2007 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
Co-ownership of patents under German law

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Legal context

Co-ownership of patents is a specific form of entitlement to a patent. Thus, it stands in the legal context of the question of who may benefit from an invention and a patent, but also of who has to bear the costs of it. Parties to a co-ownership are free to determine the terms of their co-ownership. If they do not enter into specific agreements, the statutory rules—in Germany the rules of the community of part owners—apply.

Key points

The article describes the most important aspects where German statutory rules do not usually address the needs of the co-owners.

Practical significance

Parties are advised to agree on these points before disputes arise. In particular, they should agree on the terms of the defence, enforcement, and exploitation of their patent. This applies especially against the background of the increasing number and importance of joint research and development projects and patents resulting from them.

Keywords: The co-ownership of patents is sometimes viewed by co-operating enterprises as an ideal or sensible vehicle for exploiting them commercially and then sharing the benefit. This view is rarely shared by the lawyers who advise them.; German law on shared ownership in general, as well as the provisions governing patent law and employees' inventions, may have a determinative impact on the allocation of rights in respect of not only German national patents but also the German element of a European patent.; This article reviews some of the problems that co-owners of a patent might face in Germany, as well as making concrete suggestions as to how those problems might be most satisfactorily addressed.

Journal Article.  5812 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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