Division of Employee Works According to the Employer’s Rights
Employee inventions are classified on the basis of how closely they are connected to the employment relationship. The classification has significance as it will affect the scope of rights the employer may transfer to itself against fair compensation to the employee.
The employer may take part or all rights to an A-invention. Inventions are classified as A-inventions if their use is affiliated with the employer’s area of operation or with the area of operation of a group member belonging to the same group of companies and the invention has been generated as a result of the employee’s performance of his/her work tasks or essentially by utilising experiences gained from the employer’s or business group’s business. Inventions arising from an employee’s performance of a specific task assigned to him/her, even if unrelated to the employer’s or business group’s area of operation, are also classified as A-inventions. In order to be classified as an A-invention the basic rule is that the invention would not have been made but for the experiences gained from the employment relationship.
The employer is entitled to a right of use to a B-invention. In all other respects, the employee is however free to decide upon the invention. The employer has, however, a priority to negotiate for greater rights to the invention (e.g. a patent). The use of B-inventions is affiliated with the employer’s or business group’s area of operation but the connection is not as strong as with A-inventions. The connection may for instance be that the employee got the idea for the invention by observing his/her work environment, reading the company’s materials and discovering a difference between the company’s and a competitor’s products. In such circumstances the invention does not meet the criteria for A-inventions but is nevertheless connected in some way to the employment relationship.
A C-invention is an invention that has been generated without any connection to the employment relationship but the use of which is nevertheless related to the area of operation of the employer or a group member belonging to the same business group. The employer is only entitled to priority in negotiating with the employee for rights to the invention. If to the employer and employee do not reach an agreement, all rights to the invention remain with the employee who is free to negotiate about the transfer of such rights to others.
A D-invention is an invention that has been generated without any connection to the employment relationship and the use of which is not related to the area of operation of the employer or a group member belonging to the same business group. The employer has no rights to a D-invention. The inventor and his/her employer may of course negotiate for rights to the invention but the employer has no priority with regard to such negotiations.