Legal protection in clear cases: Supreme Court confirms duties of former employee

Case No. 4A_688/2014 ¦ Decision of 15 April 2015 ¦ “Appeal against the decision of the Federal Patent Court of 30 October 2014

Note that Hepp Wenger Ryffel AG is involved in this case on behalf of the defendant.

For the background of the case and the underlying decision of the FPC in detail, please see this blog here. In brief, the FPC had decided that if the actual rights in the invention of a former employee reside with the former employer, it is an element of the former employee’s duty and care under Art. 321a CPC to sign documents that are necessary to secure the rights of his former employer. In summary proceedings (as a remedy in clear cases), the FPC had ordered an unwilling former employee to execute an assignment document (actually, an assignment confirmation) required for proceedings before the USPTO.

The employee’s appeal against this decision has now been entirely dismissed. In particular, the Supreme Court confirmed that the FPC correctly declared the case admissible under summary proceedings since (i) the facts were largely undisputed and readily proven (Art. 257(1) lit. a CPC); and the legal situation was clear (Art. 257(1) lit. b CPC).

The Supreme Court also expands on the question whether an employee’s ongoing duty of care and loyalty (Art. 321a(1) CPC) includes a duty to co-operate during prosecution of patent applications pertaining to employee inventions. The Supreme Court now for the first time explicitly confirmed that this is indeed the case.

Ob sich aus dieser allgemeinen Treuepflicht eine Verpflichtung des Arbeitnehmers zur Mitwirkung bei der Anmeldung seiner Erfindung zum Patent ergibt, hatte das Bundesgericht zwar bis anhin nicht zu entscheiden. In der Lehre ist dies indessen zu Recht unbestritten ([…]). Andernfalls könnte der Arbeitgeber Diensterfindungen […] gar nicht sinnvoll nutzen.

Reported by Martin WILMING

— BIBLIOGRAPHY —

Case No. 4A_688/2014 ¦ Decision of 05 February 2013 ¦ “Appeal against the decision of the Federal Patent Court of 30 October 2014

Cristian Popescu ./. Delica AG

Subject(s):

  • Employee invention
  • Legal protection in clear cases

Composition of the Board of the Supreme Court:

  • Christina KISS (President)
  • Dr. iur. Kathrin KLETT
  • Dr. iur. Gilbert KOLLY
  • Dr. iur. Fabienne HOHL
  • Dr. iur. Martha NIQUILLE
  • Dr. iur. Leonora MARTI-SCHREIER (Court Secretary)

Representative(s) of Appellant:

Representative(s) of Defendant:

— FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION —

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