Information for Employees

  • An invention is a creative achievement that solves a technical problem in a so far unknown way using the means of technology and the laws of nature. An invention may involve a new product, a new process or both.

  • A patent is an officially granted industrial property right for an invention. The owner of a patent is entitled to prohibit others from using the invention. The granting of a patent requires the filing of a patent application with the patent office and its successful examination for patentability.

  • Three criteria must be met for inventions to be patentable (Sec. 1 German Patent Act):

    Novelty
    An invention is new if it does not belong to the state of the art. The state of the art includes all knowledge that was available to the public worldwide in any conceivable way before the invention was filed for a patent. Information that you, as the inventor, have published yourself also counts as prior art.

    Inventive step
    An inventive step exists if the solution is not obvious to an expert. An "expert" in patent law is a fictitious person who knows the state of the art in the field, but is unimaginative. If you present your inventive problem to the expert and he readily comes up with the same solution as you, your solution is not inventive.

    Industrial applicability
    Industrial applicability presumes that the invention is technically feasible.

  • Inventions made by employees are subject to the provisions of the Employee Inventions Act (ArbnErfG). It regulates who is entitled to the rights to the invention and how to proceed with it. The law distinguishes between service inventions and free inventions.

    Serviceinventions are inventions made during the term of the employment relationship, which have either arisen from the service activity or are significantly based on experience or work of the university (§ 4 ArbnErfG). All employees of TU Clausthal are obliged to report service inventions to the university immediately (§ 5 ArbnErfG).

    Free inventions are those for which the aforementioned criteria do not apply. However, employees must also notify the university of inventions that they consider to be free (§ 18 ArbnErfG). The decision as to whether the invention is a free invention is made by the university, taking into account the circumstances communicated.

    Inventions by students who were not in an employment relationship at the time of the invention do not fall under the Employee Inventions Act and are therefore free.

  • The disclosure of an invention to the TU Clausthal must be made in writing. The university provides the form invention disclosure on the intranet. You are welcome to ask for advice before you fill in and send the invention disclosure. Please contact the person indicated on this page.

    Once you have completed and signed the invention disclosure, please send it together with a detailed description of the invention in a sealed envelope to the recipient indicated on the form.

    After receipt and verification of completeness, you will immediately receive an confirmation of receipt.

  • TU Clausthal decides within a period of four months after receipt of the complete invention disclosure whether to claim or release the invention (Section 6 ArbnErfG). As a rule, it obtains the expert opinion of a patent exploitation agency (PVA), which carries out a comprehensive assessment of the patentability and the exploitation potential and makes a recommendation based on this. Currently, MBM Sciencebridge GmbH has been commissioned by the TU Clausthal as PVA.

    If the invention has been created within the scope of a funded project, a research cooperation or an R&D contract, the university will observe the respective funding guidelines and/or contractual agreements when making its decision.

    The university will notify you in writing of the decision to claim or release.

    In the event of a claim, all rights to the service invention will be transferred to TU Clausthal. Please note that any dispositions or agreements with third parties, for example cooperation partners or third party funders, which you as inventor have made about a service invention prior to the claim are invalid towards TU Clausthal (Section 7 ArbnErfG).

    In the event of release, you may freely dispose of your invention as of receipt of the corresponding written notification.

  • If the TU Clausthal has claimed your invention, it will commission a patent attorney to prepare and file a patent application. As the inventor, you do not incur any costs in this process. However, you are obliged to support the patent attorney as well as possible in terms of content and to answer any queries without delay.

    If the invention was made jointly with external third parties, the university will reach an agreement with them on the further handling of the invention. Usually, the patent application is then filed jointly.

    In the context of contract research, it may occur that the client contractually reserves the right to transfer the invention to the client in return for separate remuneration. In this case, the patent application may not be filed by the TU Clausthal, but by the client.

    If TU Clausthal has released the invention to you in writing, you can decide for yourself whether you want to apply for a patent in your own name and at your own expense.

  • Until the patent application is filed with the patent office, you must keep the invention secret. In particular, you must not release any publications on your invention, as this would create a new state of the art which the patent office would classify as prejudicial to novelty and therefore refuse to grant the patent. This includes not only articles in journals or books, but also participation in trade fairs, lectures and even discussions with outside third parties.

    Please never send documents in which details of the content of the invention are disclosed unencrypted by e-mail. Instead, use the Cryptshare server of TU Clausthal.

  • TU Clausthal applies for patents with the primary aim of generating financial returns from the commercial exploitation of the inventions, which again benefit university research. The exploitation strategy is determined in each individual case by the university in consultation with the PVA and the inventors.

    Preferably, the TU Clausthal grants licenses against appropriate license fees, which allow the licensees the economic use of the property rights to a contractually agreed extent. The university remains the owner of the patents. In contrast, the sale of patents is only considered as a subordinate option. In any case, TU Clausthal will reserve the right to use the patents free of charge for research and teaching.

    The service inventors of the TU Clausthal will receive a total of 30 % of the income from the exploitation as inventor's remuneration(Sec. 42 ArbnErfG). If several persons are involved in the invention, the inventor's remuneration is divided among them in proportion to their shares in the invention.

    In addition to economic exploitation, non-monetary aspects also play a role in measuring the benefit of patents. They increase the university's visibility in its strategic research fields and, along with third-party funded projects and scientific publications, are an important indicator in the evaluation of research performance.

  • The Presidential Board has commissioned the Service Center for Research and Transfer with the tasks of invention and patent management. This includes receiving and processing invention disclosures, coordinating patent applications and preparing and implementing contractual agreements for the use of inventions and patents by third parties.

    Your technical expertise as an inventor is very valuable in the patenting and exploitation process, which is why we will involve you in all important procedural steps. Please note, however, that you are not authorised to issue legally binding declarations of intent in patent matters to third parties on behalf of TU Clausthal.

Contact

Mathias Liebing

Mathias Liebing

Team Leader Transfer + Innovation
Invention and Patent Management

Phone: +49 5323 72-7754
E-mail: mathias.liebing@tu-clausthal.de

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