Table of Contents

    Who is the owner of an invention? What are my rights as an inventor? Who is the owner of a patent? Who can apply for a patent? What are the rights of employees and employers when an invention is made within a company?

    Who is the inventor?

    The inventor is the person who developed the invention. The vast majority of inventions today are the result of research carried out by different people working together in a laboratory or by developing an invention based on the results of previous research by colleagues or other scientists. Essentially, each person who has made an inventive contribution to the development of the invention must be considered as the inventor or co-inventor. No distinction is made as to whether one person contributed more than another. The law provides that each person has an equal share in the invention, but - it is therefore advisable to record any other arrangements or agreements in writing - the inventors involved may decide otherwise in writing and have unequal shares in the invention recorded.

    What are my rights as an inventor?

    The inventor (or his assignee) has the right to apply for a patent. Essentially, this right is granted to the inventor, unless he transferred the right (for example, to his employer or to the person who commissioned the invention).

    If the inventor transferred his right to the patent, he, nonetheless, retains the moral paternity rights. At any time, the inventor may demand that he be recognised as the inventor and that he be mentioned on the patent. He may also object to this mention.

    Both the Belgian Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office consider a priori that the applicant is acting legitimately. In the event that a patent is applied for or obtained by an unauthorised person, the inventor or his successor in title may bring an action to claim the patent (claim action) within two years of the patent being granted.

    It is always recommended to be assisted by an expert when filing a patent application.

    Who is the holder of the patent?

    In theory, the patent applicant is the holder (owner) of the patent, possibly together with others, for example when part of the invention has been transferred or when multiple inventors have a common right to the patent.

    A patent can, of course, be transferred to another person or can be licensed (see transfer or licensing).

    Employees and employers

    What happens if inventions are developed in the context of an employment relationship? More information on creations made in employment.

    Last update
    21 February 2023