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Patents and copyright

Questions concerning patents and copyright apply to inventions and intellectual property respectively, so they are covered by different legislation.

Inventions

For patentable inventions, the so-called exemption for teachers applies to academic staff at higher education institutions pursuant to the 1949 law on the right to an employee’s inventions (SFS 1949:345). The exemption means that the employer cannot lay claim to the patentable inventions of teaching staff conducting research within Swedish higher education. Teachers own the rights to the results of their research unless otherwise agreed, and can therefore patent inventions which emerge during research work. At Lund University, the term teacher refers to the category of teaching staff as defined in the Appointment Rules. Doctoral students are not included in the exemption for teachers. However, the University does not normally lay claim to inventions made by doctoral students. In case of cooperation with researchers associated with universities abroad, one should be aware that a similar exemption to the one which applies in Sweden is unlikely; the right to the patent will probably fall to the university in question.

Copyrighted intellectual property

According to Swedish legislation, the person who has created the intellectual property owns the copyright to the work. This main principle applies even if the work was created within the framework of the author’s employment. Only in the case of computer programs do the rights pass to the copyright owner’s employer, if the computer program was created as part of work duties or according to instructions and in the absence of a different agreement.

The main principle applies to work that a teacher produces independently within the framework of his or her research field, such as articles in scholarly journals, or for work which requires a qualified effort above and beyond what can normally be expected, for example the production of textbooks alongside teaching duties; in these cases the teacher retains the copyright to the work. However, if a copyright-protected work is the result of the employee fulfilling regular work duties or specific assignments, in most cases the University is entitled to use the work in accordance with the employment contract. The employee’s salary is considered sufficient compensation in most cases. This usually applies to works such as teaching materials, compendia, etc. and covers their use for the needs which fall under the University’s ordinary activities and which could have been predicted with reasonable certainty when the material was created. Changes to the material are permitted insofar as they are required for the University to meet its needs. Further changes and elaborations must be agreed upon. The employer’s right to works produced within the framework of regular duties are an exception to the principle and are sometimes referred to as the rule of thumb. The application of the rule of thumb is an assessment to be made on a case by case basis.

The University’s Legal Division (Swedish only) can provide further information on patenting and copyright issues.

 

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Contact

Tobias Nilsson
Scientific Officer, Faculty Office
046-222 71 82
Tobias.Nilsson [at] science.lu.se