German Federal Supreme Court: “Sektionaltor II” – Compensatory claim of a co-owner of an invention

The Appeal Court had granted a claim for financial compensation to a co-owner of an invention who did not use the invention, against another co-owner who had used the invention to a considerable extent. In its reasoning, the Appeal Court was of the opinion that the reasons for not using the invention were irrelevant for the existence of such claim for compensation. The German Federal Supreme Court reversed (judgment of May 16, 2017, X ZR 85/14). It argued: A co-owner which was for structural reasons, for example because of its usual professional activity or because of non-existing resources, not able to use an invention by itself usually was entitled to be financially compensated. However, if the co-owner was a competitor of the other co-owner, a compensation claim only existed in particular cases, and the co-owner had to substantiate in detail why it was not possible for it to use the invention to an extent comparable to the other co-owner.

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