Patents and Intellectual Property
Patents safeguard intellectual property. Just as every book author has a copyright, an inventor of a technical/scientific innovation can apply for patent protection. The author is entitled to royalties, the inventor to remuneration. According to the German Law on Employee Inventions, this is split between the employer and the employee. The university receives a portion for providing the space, equipment and organisation that make the invention possible. The inventor or inventors receive 30% of all earnings – without deduction of costs. The inventors are cited in the patent by name in perpetuity, even if the university is the applicant.
Patent and publish - not mutually exclusive
Patents do not impede publication; inventors need only first disclose the invention so the university can apply for the patent. Publication can then follow. All employees (researchers, professors, technicians, but not students) are obligated to report their inventions to their employer. Patent management then has four months to decide whether the university will apply for the patent or release it to the inventor. This time can be planned into the writing of the publication. The four-month period begins on the day the invention report is received. If a major publication is being planned, this time limit can be shortened. Then the patent specification has to be created. Experienced patent attorneys assist the university in this endeavour, with the inventors and the attorney collaborating on the wording. This can also take several weeks, or in urgent cases a few days. Once something is made public (published, presented, depicted on a poster), it is considered state of the art and no longer new, which means it cannot be patented and protected.
Inventions at Ruperto Carola
In 2020 Heidelberg University scientists reported 48 inventions and submitted 22 patent applications. For the patent application and utilisation process, the university cooperates closely with Science Value Heidelberg GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of the university. Additionally, Heidelberg University works together with specialised patent attorneys. Informational events to address questions about inventions, patents, copyrights and their utilisation are gladly held at the institutes on request.
Patent Offices and Official Agencies / Research Opportunities
BMBF Patentserver (Ger)