The inventor or their legal successor acquires the right to the patent (or utility model). However, patent applications are not always filed by the person actually entitled to the patent.
If a patent application is filed by a person who is not entitled to the patent and the latter is granted to them on this basis, the person genuinely entitled may demand that the right to the patent grant be assigned to them or that the patent, where this has been granted, be transferred to them. In Germany, the person genuinely entitled may enforce this right by means of a rei vindicatio action.
Disputes relating to the legal ownership often arise in relation to employee inventions and the employee inventor’s claims for compensation or as a result of cooperation between companies having made a joint invention, where only one of the partners in the cooperation applied for the patent.
Rei vindicatio proceedings are of considerable importance given the tremendous economic value of patents, which confer a monopoly over the competition. Therefore, it is essential to process the actual facts, and particularly the technical facts, especially in view of the onus of presentation and burden of proof in rei vindicatio proceedings. A precise legal analysis and evaluation is also necessary, requiring not only specific knowledge of patent law, but also a knowledge of civil law in general as well as knowledge of the case law relating to rei vindicatio proceedings.
As, under certain circumstances, usurpation may also establish a rei vindicatio claim, rei vindicatio proceedings are frequently conducted in parallel with opposition and nullity proceedings. BARDEHLE PAGENBERG’s attorneys-at-law and patent attorneys therefore also work closely with one another in rei vindicatio proceedings.
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