Who is the first owner of each of these intellectual property rights and is this different for rights created in the course of employment or under a commission?

Intellectual Property (2nd edition)

France Small Flag France

Patents

The inventor or his successor in title (Article L.611-6 of the IPC).

 

However, if the invention is made by an employee in connection with his employment contract involving an inventive mission, the right to the patent belongs to the employer (Article L.611-7 section 1 of the IPC).

 

The invention made by an employee in connection with his employment contract without inventive mission can be assigned to the employer should the invention falls within the employer field of activity or if the employee used technical means and knowledge provided by the employee.

 

For any other invention, the right to the patent belongs to the employee (Article L.611-7 section 2 of the IPC).

 

Trademarks

The applicant (Article L.712-1 of the IPC).

Plant varieties

The applicant (Article L.623-4 of the IPC).

Semiconductors

The creator or his successor in title (Article L.622-3 of the IPC).

Designs

The creator or his successor in title (Article L.511-9 of the IPC).

Copyright

The author of the work who is deemed to be the person under whose name the work has been disclosed (Article L.113-1 of the IPC).

Databases

The producer of the database (Article L.342-1 of the IPC).

Software created by an employee

The employer (Article L.113-9 of the IPC).

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

As a general rule, the first owner is the person who created or invented, subject to registration for all intellectual property rights, except copyright.

According to the Swiss Code of Obligations, inventions and designs produced by the employee in the course of his/her work for the employer and in performance of his/her contractual obligations belong to the employer. The parties can however provide otherwise in writing. The employer has also a legal right to reserve in writing its rights to acquire inventions and designs produced by the employee in the course of his/her work for the employer but not in relation to the performance of his/her contractual obligations. In such case, the employer must pay the employee an appropriate remuneration.

For copyrights, there is no "work for hire" concept. Copyright vests with the employee who has created the work. For computer programs created by an employee under an employment contract as part of his/her duties or contractual obligations, even though the ownership vests with the employee, the employer alone is entitled to exercise the exclusive rights of use (Art. 17 CopA).

Poland Small Flag Poland

a) For patents, utility models and designs, the creator obtains the right to obtain the relevant rights. Generally, when such subjects of rights are created while performing obligations under an employment or other contract, then the employer or the ordering party is entitled to these rights, unless the parties stipulated otherwise.

The rights to obtain each of these rights are separate from patent rights, utility model rights, or design rights (those obtained through registration). These are originally granted to the party who filed for protection, provided that such party had previously acquired the rights to obtain protection.

b) Supplementary protection rights are granted to the owner of the patent.

c) Trade secrets are protected under unfair competition regulations. The entrepreneur is protected against violations of his or her trade secrets, but there are no provisions that regulate the entrepreneur as the first owner of them.

d) The creator of an improvement proposal is entitled to obtain remuneration if the business uses it.

e) In respect of trade marks, the first owner of the mark is the applicant.

f) Business name protection applies to each business acting under a specific name. The business name is not exclusive – several businesses may operate under the same name, although the names should differ for businesses operating on the same market.

g) Designations of origin, geographical indications, and traditional specialities are not "owned" by anyone in a typical way, as they may be used by anyone whose products comply with the relevant requirements.

h) The primary owner of copyright is the author. For computer programs, the employer is the primary owner of copyright of the work created by an employee in performance of his or her duties. With regard to other copyrighted works, the employee remains as the copyright's primary owner, although an employment contract may stipulate that economic copyrights are automatically transferred to the employer once a work is created.

i) Related rights:
The first owner of a performers' right is the performer. Phonogram and videogram rights are originally vested in the producers (it is assumed that the producer is the person or business under whose names the phonogram/videogram has been made for the first time), and broadcasters' rights are owned by the original broadcaster. Publishers are owners of first publication rights, as well as the rights to critical and scientific publications.

j) In respect of semiconductor topographies, the right to obtain a registration right is granted to the creator, creator's legal successor or the person to whom the creator is bound by an employment or other contract, or the person who assisted the creator in creating the topography.

k) The holder of the plant variety protection is the breeder, understood as a the person who bred or discovered and developed the variety, but also a legal successor of such person, as well as his or her employer, or the party of the contract under which a plant variety has been bred or discovered.

l) The first owner of database rights is its producer, i.e. person or entity which bore investment risk in connection with the creation of the database.

Italy Small Flag Italy

In general, the first owner of an intellectual property right is the inventor, designer or author who created the work. If the inventive/creative activity is specifically provided for and specifically remunerated in the contract between the worker and the employer, then the employer acquires automatically all the intellectual property rights in the work created, invented, designed or developed by the worker. Where however the contract provides for the performance of inventive/creative activity, but does not provide for specific remuneration, then the IP rights belong originally to the employer, which must however compensate the employee, by paying a "fair reward", which may be significant (i.e., it is not nominal, but aims to compensate the employee). In the case of a freelance worker, if the contract does not provide for both (i) the worker to perform inventive/creative activity and (ii) specific remuneration for such activity, the IP rights belong to the worker originally. The freelance worker and the principal will have to agree, following private negotiations, to the price and other terms of the transfer of the IP rights.

The first owner of a registered trademark is the applicant.

Cyprus Small Flag Cyprus

In general, the first owner of intellectual property rights is the inventor, designer or author (or his successor or joint inventors, designers or authors where applicable); that is to say the first owner is the person that actually created the work.

In case of an invention, design or work made in the course of employment or commission, the right to the work shall belong – in the absence of contractual provisions to the contrary- to the employer or to the person having commissioned the work respectively. However, in case that the work is created by an employee and the work was created outside of the normal duties of the employee's employment, the employee may be the first owner.

In regard to trade marks, the first owner of a registered trade mark is the named applicant.

The owner of a domain name is not the applicant but in accordance to the law, the owner is the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation. The applicant has only the license to use the domain name for the license period paid for.

Israel Small Flag Israel

Patents
The first owner of an invention is the inventor himself or persons who derive title under him, being entitled to the invention by virtue of law, by transfer, or by agreement.

A patent owner is the person recorded in the Register as the person to whom a patent was granted or to whom ownership of a patent has passed.

Additionally, the Israeli Law also requires an employee to assign his or her rights to the employer for an invention that was envisaged as a consequence of the employee’s service and during the period of the employee’s service.

The Israeli Patent Act:

132.—(a) An invention by an employee, arrived at in consequence of his service and during the period of his service (hereafter: service invention) shall, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary between him and his employer, become the employer’s property, unless the employer relinquishes the invention within six months from the day on which notification under section 131 was delivered to him.

(b) If, in his notification under section 131, the employee stated that—in the absence of a contrary reply from the employer within six months after delivery of the employee’s notification—the invention will become the employee’s property, and if the employer made no contrary aforesaid reply, then the invention shall not become the employer’s property.

Designs
The applicant.

Trademarks
The owner of a trademark is the entity and/or individual in the name of which the trademark is applied-for or registered. Trademark rights may also be obtained through use in which case the owner is the entity and/or individual that uses the mark.

Chile Small Flag Chile

  • Trademarks:
    In the case of trademarks, the first owner will be the first to register it as such before de Chilean Trademark Office.

    Regarding designation of origin and geographical indications, there is no "first holder of the right", but they can be used by anyone who meets the requirements stipulated in the regulation of use and control that must be presented at the time of requesting the registration of the right.

  • Patents of invention / utility models / industrial drawings and designs / layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits:
    According to the Chilean legislation, the person who has the original right to the invention is the true creator. However, this can be altered by legal or contractual norm; legal in the case of inventions in service and contractual in the case of transfer of ownership rights. Hence, the first owner of patents of invention / utility models / industrial drawings and designs / layout designs (topographies) of integrated circuits is the one who requests and is granted registration, as the right arises with the administrative resolution that grants it; however, who requests the registration must be the original creator or accompany a cession of the inventor (s), unless it is an invention of services, in which case the respective work contract must be accompanied.
  • Copyright:
    In the case of copyright, the works protect the author (s) from the moment of their creation, unless they are created by virtue of an employment contract or provision of services in which it is specifically stated that they are created under the pretext of ownership of someone else. However, there must always be a moral recognition to the natural persons who participated in its creation. Additionally, the law recognizes some cases in which the ownership is of someone other than the author, such as the person who entrusts the creation of a software to a programmer or team of programmers.

Greece Small Flag Greece

  • The inventor or his/her legal successor or assignee (individual, firm or corporate entity) and the joint inventors may apply for patent, utility model or design registration. The first applicant is considered to be the inventor.
  • If an invention is made by an employee who is bound by an employment contract with the purpose of carrying out inventive activities of the kind concerned, then such invention belongs entirely to the employer. If in such a case the invention is of particular benefit for the employer, the employee will be entitled to an additional reasonable compensation. If an invention is made by an employee where it was not his/her particular task to carry out inventive activities of the kind concerned, but the invention was made by making use of materials, methods or information belonging to the enterprise in which the inventor is employed, 40% of the invention will belong to the employer and 60% to the employee. In such a case the employer will have a preferential right to the exploitation of the invention against payment of compensation to the inventor based on the economic value of the invention and the profit brought by it. If such an invention is made, the inventor must inform the employer accordingly and furnish the necessary data for filing a joint patent application. If the employer does not, in due time inform the inventor in writing that he/she is interested in the filing of a joint application, the employee shall have the right to file a patent application alone and the invention shall then belong exclusively to the employee. If an invention is made by an employee who is not bound to carry out inventive activities of the kind concerned and the invention was not made by making use of materials, methods or information belonging to the enterprise in which the inventor is employed, such invention shall belong exclusively to the employee. Any agreement restricting the rights of an employee as referred to shall be null and void.
  • In the case of semiconductor topography rights, the first owner of the rights is the employer, both in case of work made for hire and employee contract.
  • In the case of copyright, if the work is created by an employee in the course of an employment contract, the employee is considered to be the initial owner of both pecuniary and moral rights. However, unless the contract provides otherwise, pecuniary rights over copyright created in the course of an employment contract are automatically assigned to the employer. Moral rights remain with the employee, but they are of limited significance. Automatic assignment will not extend to forms of exploitation which were unknown at the time of creation of the relevant work. In the case of rights under a commission, copyright is retained by the author, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

In general, the first owner of an intellectual property right is the inventor, designer or author who created the work.

If the work was created by an employee in the course of the employee's employment, the employer is usually the first owner of the right, unless the work was created outside of the normal duties of the employee's employment (in which case the employee remains the owner).

If a work is created under a commission, the first owner is the inventor, designer or author, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.

The first owner of a registered trade mark is the named applicant.

Pakistan Small Flag Pakistan

In case of patents the inventor is considered to be the first owner of intellectual property but it is different for the rights created in the course of employment or under a commission as it depends upon the terms of agreement/contract between the parties.

The first adopter/user is normally considered to be the first owner of the trade mark, collective mark and certification mark.

The author of a work is the first owner of copyright.

The applicant of a Design is the first owner of the Design.

Ecuador Small Flag Ecuador

The owner of the right is who requests it either natural or legal person. If the right to protection is claimed, the owner is the person who requested the first registration, unless the latter has transferred his rights to a third party.

In the case of copyright created during employment or under commission, ownership will correspond to the authors. However, the establishment will have a free, non-transferable and non-exclusive license for non-commercial use of the work for academic purposes.

In the case of inventions made in the course of research or academic activities in higher education institutions or public research institutes, the ownership and distribution of benefits derived from the exploitation of the patent shall be negotiated between them and the inventors involved, such as: professors, researchers or students.

In the case of a patent developed in compliance with a contract, the ownership belongs to the principal or the employer, unless stipulated otherwise.

United States Small Flag United States

(a) Patents
The first owner of a U.S. patent (utlilty, design or plant) is the inventor. This is not different if the patented innovation was created in the course of employment or under a commission unless a written agreement to the contrary is executed by the inventor. An employer, in certain circumstances, may have a so-called “shop right” which provides an implied license for the employer to use the patented invention but this shop right does not provide ownership of the innovation to the employer.

(b) Trademarks
The first owner of a U.S. trademark is the entity that uses the trademark in interstate or international commerce. The owner of a U.S. trademark registration is the entity that obtains the registration from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

(c) Copyright
The first owner of a copyright in the U.S. is the author of the work, unless the work was a “work made for hire” as defined in 17 U.S.C. § 101.

(d) Trade Secret
Trade secrets are initially owned by the entity that holds the information and takes reasonable steps to maintain its secrecy.

Malaysia Small Flag Malaysia

Patents:
The person whose name is recorded in the Register of Patents as the grantee of a patent.
The right to a patent for an invention which is made in the performance of a contract of employment or in the execution of a commissioned work is deemed to accrue to the employer or the person who commissioned the work, with exceptions.

Trademark:
The first user of the trade mark in the course of trade is the owner of a trade mark.

Geographical indication:
Jointly to the producers carrying on their activity in the geographical area specified in the Register.

Copyright:
The presumption is that copyright will vest initially in the author of the work.

Copyright is deemed to be transferred to the person who commissioned the work or the author’s employer when a work is commissioned by a person under a contract of service or apprenticeship or created in the course of the author’s employment as soon as it comes into existence, without any formalities.

Industrial design:
The person registered as the owner in the Register of Industrial Designs.

Where an industrial design is created in pursuance of a commission for money or money’s worth or is created by an employee in the course of his employment, the person commissioning the industrial design or the employer is the original owner of the industrial design, however, this is subject to any agreement to the contrary between the parties.

Philippines Small Flag Philippines

The right to a patent belongs to the inventor, his heirs, or assigns. If two (2) or more persons jointly made an invention, the right to a patent shall belong to them jointly. If two (2) or more persons made the invention separately and independently of each other, the right to the patent shall belong to the person who first filed an application for the invention. If the invention is created pursuant to a commission, the person who commissions the work shall own the patent, unless otherwise provided in the contract. If the invention was created in the course of employment, the patent shall belong to the employee if the inventive activity was not part of his regular duties even if he uses the time, facilities, and materials of the employer, and to the employer if the invention is a result of the performance of the employee’s regular duties unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

The same rules above apply to utility models, industrial designs, and layout designs of integrated circuits.

The rights over a trademark are acquired by one who registers the trademark. The rights in a mark shall be acquired through a valid registration.

The rights over a copyright are conferred upon creation. The copyright shall belong to the author of the work. In case of works of joint authorship and in the absence of agreement, their rights shall be governed by the rules on co-ownership. If, however, a work of joint authorship can be used separately and the author of each part can be identified, the authors shall own their separate parts. In case the work is created in the course of employment, the copyright shall belong to the employee if the creation of the work is not part of his regular duties and to the employer if the work is a result of the performance of his regular duties. In case of work done under commission, the person who commissioned the work shall have ownership of the work but the copyright thereto shall remain with the creator, unless there is a written stipulation to the contrary.

Japan Small Flag Japan

Patents/Utility model rights/Design rights: The first owner of a right to obtain a patent is the inventor. For employee inventions, the right to obtain a patent belongs to the employer from the time of occurrence of such right by stipulating so in an agreement, employment regulation or elsewhere in advance. The same rule applies to utility model rights and design rights.

Trademark rights: The first owner of a trademark right is the applicant in whose name the trademark is registered.

Copyrights: The first owner of a copyright is the author of the work. For employee creations, the owner of the copyright is the employer, under the circumstances stipulated in §15 of the Copyright Act, unless otherwise stipulated in an agreement, employment rule or elsewhere at the time the work is created.

UAE Small Flag UAE

Generally, the creator is the first owner of each of the relevant IP rights, with copyright being a particular exception to this.

The default position is that employers and commissioners are the first owner of patents, designs and utility certificates (unless otherwise agreed). UAE law allows for additional compensation to be paid to the inventor(s)/creators(s) if the economic value of the patent/design/utility model is greater than expected.

Copyrights vests in the author of the work until, or unless, the copyright is assigned in writing. This is also the case for employee created rights, or commissioned works. Ownership of copyrights in collective works vests in the director of the creation of the work. Moral rights rest with the author of the works and cannot be assigned. It is possible for an author to agree not to exercise moral rights.

Neighbouring rights may be owned by performers in their performances, producers of sound recordings in their first recording of such sounds/performances, and broadcasting organizations in their broadcasts of programs and recordings.

The owner of a trade mark is the person who first obtains the registration of the mark in the UAE, though in certain circumstances this can be challenged through prior use or international rights.

Plant variety and plant breeder rights belong to the person who bred, discovered or developed the new plant variety.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

Inventions

IP right

First owner?

Different for rights created in the course of employment or under a commission?

Patents

Inventor

According to article 14 of the Industrial Property Law, the provisions of the Mexican Labour Law (mainly: article 163), shall be applied when it comes to inventions made by a person subject to an employment relationship.

 

Therefore, under the scope of article 163 of the Mexican Labour Law, the ownership of a given invention is subject to the following rules: (i) in any case, the inventor shall be identified as the author of the relevant invention; (ii) if the services provided by the employee are related to research activities, the invention’s ownership as well as the exploitation right shall be held by the employer; and (iii) if nothing is agreed between the parties, the ownership of the invention will be held by the inventor, but the employer shall have a preferential right –in equal circumstances- to obtain the ownership as well as the exclusive right to use the relevant invention.

Utility models

Inventor

Industrial designs

Inventor

Integrated circuits

Inventor

Brands

IP right

First owner?

Different for rights created in the course of employment or under a commission?

Trademarks

Applicant

If the trademark / trade name / slogan was created during the course of employment of under commission then the owner will be the employer.

Trade names

Applicant

Slogans

Applicant

Appellations of Origin

The Mexican Government

N/A

Geographical Indications

The Mexican Government

N/A

Copyright and other rights

IP right

First owner?

Different for rights created in the course of employment or under a commission?

Copyright

Author

Article 84 of the Federal Law on Copyright (FLC) provides that in case of a work made in the course of an employment relationship (under a written individual employment contract), the rules that should be applied concerning the ownership of rights are the following:

 

a)  If there is an intellectual property clause, the same should be complied.

 

Some individual employment contracts include an intellectual property clause, in which the employer states that the copyright of works created by employees will completely belong to the employer.

 

b)  If there is no clause or agreement about the ownership of a copyright, the FLC provides that the rights will be owned by both the employer and the employee (50% each).

 

Furthermore, only the employer is entitled to disclose the work without the employee´s authorization.

 

c)  If there is not a written contract, the ownership of rights will belong to the employee.

On the other hand, when it comes to Commissions, unless agreed otherwise, the natural person or legal entity, which commissions a party to create a given work, shall have the ownership of the exploitation rights.

If there is not a written contract, the ownership of rights will belong to the employee.

Related rights: artist, performers and executors

Artist, performers and executors

No, they are not different.

Related rights: book publishers

Book publishers

No, they are not different.

Related rights: phonogram producers

Phonogram producers

No, they are not different.

Related rights: video producers

Video producers

No, they are not different.

Related rights: broadcasting organizations

Broadcasting organizations

No, they are not different.

Reservation of rights

Applicant

If the reservation of rights was created during the course of employment of under commission then the owner will be the employer.

Plant varieties

Applicant

If the reservation of rights was created during the course of employment of under commission then the owner will be the employer.

India Small Flag India

Patents:
The inventor or its assignee are the first owner(s) of the patent rights.

Unless, there is a formal employment agreement to this effect, all rights arising out of an invention vests with the employee inventor and an employer has to execute an assignment with the employee to acquire rights to an invention.

Trade marks; Collective Marks and Certification Marks:
Generally, the person who uses or controls the use of the mark, and controls the nature and quality of the goods to which it is affixed, or the services for which it is used, is the owner of the mark. As per the Trade Marks law, the Applicant/registered proprietor of a Trade mark; Collective Mark or Certification Mark shall be considered the owner of the Trade mark; Collective Mark or Certification Mark.

Domain name:
The legal owner of a domain name is the person and/or organization listed as the domain’s registrant or owner contact.

Copyright:
The author of a work is the owner of copyright therein.

In case the author is employed by newspaper, magazine etc. under a contract of service, the proprietor will be the first owner in the absence of an agreement to the contrary in the case of a literary, dramatic or artistic work.

Where a photograph is taken, or a painting or portrait drawn for a valuable consideration at the instance of person, such person is the first owner.

Where any address or speech is delivered in public, the person delivering is the first owner and where it is delivered on behalf of another person such other person is the first owner.

In case of Government work, Government shall be the first owner and in case of work made or published by or under any public undertaking, it shall be the first owner.

Designs:
The Applicant/registered proprietor of a Design shall be considered the owner of the Design.

Sweden Small Flag Sweden

(a) Patent
There is a presumption of the employee’s right to his or her invention. A few exceptions, where such right automatically vests with the employer, are however stipulated in the Employees’ Invention Act. In accordance herewith, an employer shall be entitled to succeed the employee’s interest in relation to a “Research Invention” which has arisen primarily as a result of the employee’s primary work duties. The employer shall be entitled to acquire a right to use an invention without pediment if the use of such invention, which has arisen in an employment context other than within the employee’s primary work duties, falls within the employer’s scope of business activity. The employer further has a right of priority over other parties to acquire the desired right to the invention through an agreement with the employee, has the invention arisen outside the context of employment but the use thereof falls within the employer’s scope of business.

(b) Protection of Topographies for Semiconductor Products
The owner of an exclusive right to a topography is the natural person who created the topography, provided that he or she is a national of, or has his habitual residence in, a state included in the European Economic Area (or a state mentioned under the Regulation (1993:1434) on the application in relation to other states of the act on the protection of circuit patterns for semiconductor products). If however the creator is an employee and the typography was created in the course of the employment and otherwise have not been agreed, a right to a typography shall vest with the employer.

(c) Right to Trademarks
Exclusive right to a Trademark vests with the natural or legal person whom have established or had the Trademark registered at the PRO.

(d) Right to Trade Names
Exclusive right to a Trade Name vests with the proprietor of the company to which the Trade Name belongs.

(e) Copyright
Copyright to a Work automatically vests with the author. Where a Work has two or more authors, whose contributions do not constitute independent works, the Copyright is owned by the authors jointly.

Copyright of employees is unregulated. However, a general rule is that a copyright arisen during an employment which valid for an indefinite term, does not automatically transfer to the employer to an extent beyond what can be considered necessary at the time of the creation with regards to the company’s normal course of business.

(f) Design Protection
Exclusive right to a Design vests with the person who has created the Design, or the Designer’s successor.

(g) Plant Variety Rights
See above under (a) Patent.

(h) Trade Secrets
Pursuant to the definition of a Trade Secret, it is the business operators’ or research facility’s proprietary information and the right to such information is thus owned by them.

Latvia Small Flag Latvia

Patents - An inventor or his/her successor in title has the right to the patent. If several persons have jointly created an invention, they have equal right to the patent. The employer has the right to a patent if the invention in relation to which the patent application has been filed has been created by the employee whose work duties include: activity of an inventor; and research, designing and construction or preparation of technological development. If the duties of the employee do not comprise the mentioned conditions but are related to the field of activity of the employer, then the right to the patent shall belong to the inventor. The employer in this case has the right to use the invention as under a non-exclusive licence without the right to grant the licence to other persons.

Trade marks - The owner of a registered mark is the applicant in whose name the trade mark is registered. Rights to trade marks may be acquired by any natural or legal person and each person may own one or more trade marks. Besides, a trade mark may be the joint property of two or more persons and a collective mark is the property of an association of several undertakings. Unregistered trade marks may be also used in commercial activities.

Semiconductor topography rights - The exclusive right to the topography belongs to its creator, but if the topography is created by several persons together, all its creators. If a topography is created in the performance of an employment contract providing for the creation of topographies, the exclusive right to the topography may belong to the employer, if it is determined by a collective agreement or an individual employment contract. If the topography is created in the course of performance of the contract of the company, the exclusive right to the topography may belong to the contractor if this is determined by the contract.

Design - The designer or his/her successor in title shall have the rights to a design. If two or more persons have created a design together, the rights to a design shall belong to all of them jointly. A designer shall have the rights to the design that has been created in the performance of a work task, unless provided otherwise by the contract with the employer.

Copyright (including database rights) - The person, whose name or generally recognised pseudonym appears on a work communicated to the public or a published or a reproduced work, shall be considered to be the author of the work, if it is not proven otherwise. If an author has created a work performing his or her duties in an employment relationship, the moral and economic rights to the work shall belong to the author. The economic rights of the author may be transferred, in accordance with a contract, to the employer. If a computer program has been created by an employee while performing a work assignment, all economic rights to the computer program so created shall belong to the employer, unless specified otherwise by contract.

Vietnam Small Flag Vietnam

For patents, for certificate of trademark registration, certificate of protection of plant variety: the first owner is the individual or organization who are recorded in the national register as patentee or registrant.

Geographical indications: the State is the owner whilst the producers or associations’ producers are those authorised to use or exploit those GIs in commerce.

Copyright: an author is deemed as the first owner of copyright. In case of a work constituted on the commission basis or on the employee-employer relationship, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the organisation or individual who commissioned or employer shall be the owner of all economic rights plus one of the four moral rights being the right to publish his/her works or to authorise other persons to publish his/her works.

Germany Small Flag Germany

a) Patents/Utility models
The first owner is the inventor. However, German law distinguishes between the "right to the invention", the "right to the patent" and the "right conferred by the patent". The right to the patent (being a monetary, proprietary right) may differ from the right to the invention and may be assigned to a third party. The inventor has to be named on the application, but the applicant can be a different party.

For employee inventors, the Act on employee inventions applies and provides for an assumption that the employer has claimed the invention if the employer has not released the invention within four months following its notification by the employee.

c) Confidential information
Trade secrets are recognized as property assets under the Act against unfair competition. However, to date, they are not protected as proprietary rights or similar rights, so that there is no "first owner".

Following the implementation of the EU Trade Secrets Directive (EU 2016/943) into German law, trade secrets will be eligible for a more substantive form of protection. The draft bill defines trade secrets as non-public valuable information, which is subject to secrecy measures by its rightful proprietor. Proprietor can be any individual or company which has obtained a trade secret, inter alia by own discovery. In that sense the "first owner" would be the respective discoverer.

d) Trade marks and business names
The first owner of a registered individual or collective trademark is the applicant in whose name the trade mark is registered. For unregistered trademarks, the first owner is the person in whose favour the recognition or the notoriety is acquired.

The first owner of the right to a company name is the owner of the respective business. For work titles it is the author of the work and anyone who legally uses the title for the work, e.g. the publisher.

e) Supplementary protection of creative property under competition law
Supplementary protection of creative property under competition law is not an intellectual property right per se and has no "first owner".

f) Registered designs
The first owner of a registered design is the applicant in whose favour the design is registered.

Where a design was created by an employee in the execution of his duties or following the instructions given by his employer, the right in the design shall belong to the employer, unless otherwise provided by contract.

g) Copyright and database rights
For copyright, the first owner of the right is the author of the work. This also applies to software developed by employees, but an automatic license is granted to the employer, see below. For database rights, it is the producer of the database.

Where an author has created the work in the fulfilment of obligations resulting from an employment or service relationship, the copyright is with the author, unless otherwise provided in accordance with the terms or nature of the employment relationship.

Where a computer program is created by an employee in the execution of his duties or following the instructions of his employer, the employer exclusively shall be entitled (licensed) to exercise all economic rights in the computer program, unless otherwise agreed.

h) Semiconductor topography rights
The right to apply for the registration of a semiconductor topography right vests in the creator, Section 2(1) German Semiconductor Protection Act. According to Section 3(2) No. 4 German Semiconductor Protection Act, the application must include information on the entitlement of the applicant with respect to Section 2 German Semiconductor Protection Act.

Where a topography was created by an employee in the execution of his duties or following the instructions given by his employer, the right in the topography shall belong to the employer, unless otherwise provided by contract.

i) Plant variety right
The first owner of a plant variety right is the applicant in whose favour the plant variety is registered. However the same principles as for patens, utility models and registered designs apply, Section 8, 9 Act on the Protection of Plant Varieties.

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Copyright:
Under the Copyright Act, the first owner of copyright is the author or the joint authors, as the case may be. With regard to computer programs and databases which are made in the course of the author’s employment, in the execution of one’s duties or following the instructions given by the employer, the economic rights conferred by copyright are transferred ex lege to the employer, subject to any agreement between the parties excluding or limiting such transfer. In respect of other works eligible for copyright created pursuant to a contract of service or employment, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary between the parties, the copyright shall always initially vest in the author or joint authors.

When semiconductor product topographies are created in the course of employment, in the execution of one’s duties or following the instructions given by the employer, the rights conferred upon such semiconductor product topographies are transferred to the creators’ employer, subject to any agreement between the parties limiting or excluding same.

Designs:
A registered design is a property right obtained by the registration of the design conferring on to the proprietor of a registered design the rights and remedies provided by Maltese law.

Patents:
The right to a patent shall belong to the inventor or his successor in title. Joint inventors shall, unless they agree otherwise, have equal rights and where the application for a patent is made by two or more persons jointly, a patent may be granted to them jointly. With regard to patents created in the execution of a commission or a contract employment, the Maltese Patents and Designs Act provides that the right to a patent for that invention shall belong, in the absence of contractual provisions to the contrary, to the person having commissioned the work or to the employer.

Trade marks:
The owner of a trade mark is the person who registers the mark in their name.

Updated: August 2, 2018