Tel Aviv Regional Labor Tribunal Rejected a Claim for Patent Royalties By Employee Inventor
The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Tribunal recently rejected a chemist’s claim to enforce her right to receive royalties from a patent she invented while working for a development team in Adama Makhteshim Ltd. The court revoked her right to receive royalties in light of her employment agreement and her consent to waive and transfer all rights in any development achieved during her work in Adama. The tribunal also rejected her claim that her employment agreement was a standard form contract and therefore not enforceable, since she was able to negotiate the terms of the agreement.
The plaintiff, Dr. Anat Berliner, is a chemist employed by the defendant, Adama Makhteshim Ltd. During her work, the plaintiff, together with her manager, invented an innovative pesticide chemical that was adopted by the defendant and filed for patent registration in many countries. The plaintiff asked the defendant for royalties, but was refused. The plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to the Compensation and Royalties Committee established under the Patent Law, but her motion was denied.
The Tribunal held that section 134 of the Patent Law, which states that “Where there is no agreement that determines whether the employee is entitled to compensation for the invention and to what extent and under what conditions, it will be determined by the Compensation and Compensation Committee established under Chapter 6” — can therefore be conditioned. In fact, the default is that the rights in employee patents developed during the course of employment are those of the employer, unless there is another agreement between the employee and the employer in this matter.
As regards the plaintiff’s right to compensation, Article 12 of her employment agreement clearly states that any invention achieved by the employee during the period of her employment that is related to her employment shall belong to the defendant. The plaintiff worked in the defendant’s research and development department with a goal to develop new processes and signed the waiver of all of her rights. It is therefore clear that the parties’ intention was to grant the defendant all rights in this invention. The parties’ behavior after signing the agreement and throughout the employment of the plaintiff supports this interpretation. Therefore, it was held that at the time of employment, there was an agreement between the parties regarding the ineligibility of royalties for the plaintiff. The employee appealed the ruling to the National Labor Tribunal.
DR 53043-06-14 Berliner v. Adama Makhteshim Ltd.