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Austria: Multiple ownership of patents

Austrian patent law accepts the ownership of patents (and other IP rights) of several natural and/or legal persons as co–owners principally but refers to general civil law all questions concerning the rights of the individual owners with regard to the other co–owners.

Civil law provides that each co–owner can work the patent only insofar as he does not disturb the use of the patent by the other co–owner. That means that the possibility of such working of the patent by a

co–owner is limited by the user rights of the others.

In a recent decision of the Austrian Supreme Court, it was stipulated regarding co–ownership of a property that upon opposition of another co–owner the first one has to pay a remuneration for his excessive use to the opposing co–owner.

In order to avoid future litigation about the extent of the use of the patent through production and/or sales, all co–owners should (suitably beforehand) regulate the use of the patent by each of them. If they cannot consent to a certain regulation, it is provided in civil law that a court is called in to regulate the rights of working the patent for the co–owners.

Helmut Sonn

SONN & PARTNER Patentanwälte
Riemergasse 14
A-1010 Vienna
Tel: +43 1 512 84 05
Fax: +43 1 512 98 05


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