Policy ForumPATENT LAW

New Rules for German Professors

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Science  08 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5596, pp. 1173-1175
DOI: 10.1126/science.1075269

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In Germany, the "Inventor's Law" has, in the past, granted German university professors an exemption from the standard legal obligation, known throughout industry, of notifying the employer of an invention. The inventor-professor was at the same time the sole beneficiary of any and all financial income achieved by the commercialization of the invention. It was frequently argued that, in essence, this old legislation was denying the German universities and, thereby, the German economy an economically valuable intangible asset. Thus, legislation has very recently abolished the so-called "professor's privilege," with great financial and political consequences.