Who owns an invention conceived by employees?
The owner is the person or entity who owns the rights to an invention or another intellectual creation, and not necessarily the inventor(s) or creator(s).
When a person creates an invention in relation with his/her employment, who owns the right to apply for a patent: the inventor or the employer?
In Switzerland, the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), article 332, states that an invention and a software belong to the employer of the inventor, if such invention or software is created while executing tasks on behalf of his/her employer. Specifically, for UNIL, the same rule is given by article 70 of the Law on the University of Lausanne (LUL), and for CHUV by article 47 of the Law on the Personnel of the State of Vaud (LPers-VD) which refers to the CO.
The Institutions encourage innovation and commercialization of intellectual property rights (IP). Therefore, a part of the revenues is returned to the inventor and to his research unit. For more information about this, please visit the Commercialisation of IP page.
What about copyright ?
Copyright covering creations made at work belongs to you (personally), with the exception of computer programs, which belong to the Institution. Specifically, this means that you may enter into a contract with an editor on your own behalf for the commercialisation of an article or a book you have authored. On the contrary, only PACTT is entitled, on behalf of the Institutions, to negotiate an agreement granting rights of use to a third party regarding software of which you are the author.
The role of PACTT
The technology transfer office acts as an interface between researchers and external partners and has been commissioned by the Institutions to negotiate directly with such partners. Close collaboration with the inventors is a key element in successfully bringing novel technologies to the market.
The technology transfer office does not influence the objectives of the research projects. Following the principle of academic freedom, these are entirely left to the discretion of the researchers and the Institutions.
By reviewing research contracts between an institute and external partners the technology transfer office makes an essential contribution to the good governance of the Institutions, in particular with regards to ownership and exploitation rights of the intellectual property.
When you have worked with colleagues from other institutions to create an invention, we will put in place a co-ownership agreement with such institution, settling the shares of ownership, the sharing of costs and revenues and in general stating who will “take the lead” for valorising the invention.
Please see Information on Good Intellectual Property Management Practices for more information.