The Employee Inventions Code (Lov om arbeidstakeroppfinnelser) concerning inventions made by employees, is applicable to patentable inventions only. However, it is not a requirement that the subject matter be presented in a patent application.
The employee shall without unnecessary delay inform the employer in writing and describe what the invention concerns.
The employee is entitled to receive a reasonable compensation, if the value of the invention the employer has acquired exceeds the value the employee should have expected to obtain as a compensation for salary and other benefits related to the employment.
The employer’s right to acquire the ownership of the invention is set by the employee’s role within the enterprise.
- If the employee is employed within research and development, and the invention can be defined as a part of the area of activity of the enterprise, the employer may claim ownership of the invention, completely or in part.
- If an employee has invented an invention in connection with the service, but the inventor does not have any position within research and development, and the invention can be defined within the area of activity of the enterprise, the employer may claim the right of use within its area of activity, sometimes known as a “shop right”.
- If an inventor has invented an invention within the expected scope of his/her employment, and if the utilization of the invention falls within the area of activity of the enterprise, the employer has, within 4 months, the right to make an agreement with the employee to take ownership of the invention, completely or partly.
Universities and colleges do now have the ability to acquire the right to obtain commercial utilization of patentable inventions made by employees at the institution. Students however, administer their ideas themselves unless other terms have been agreed upon.
The parties should also take the value of the invention into consideration, the scope of the rigth the employer has acquired, the employment terms, the significance of the employment in relation to development of the invention.
From the employer’s point of view, it is of vital importance that the employment contract includes clear regulations of issues of this type because the parties are entitled to make agreement on important matters. The code is, with certain exceptions, “declaratory”, i.e., the law can be departed from by agreement, i.e., the parties can agree that the employer shall have more or less comprehensive rights to possible future inventions.
Inventions made within 6 months after the employee quit his/her position, are regarded as made within the employment.
The Mediation Board for Employee Inventions (Meklingsnemnda for arbeidstakeroppfinnelser) may assist in conflicts. The Mediation Board has client confidentiality, and its services are free of charge. The board has a secretariat at the Norwegian Patent Office (Patentstyret), and the secretary is currently (March 2009) juridical advisor Hedda Høyby. The board members and the secretary will gladly assist you with more information and are available by e-mail to the Patent Office.