One more or less uniform paradigm in various jurisdictions, is that the invention of the employee belongs, because of the employment contract, to the employer. Some specificities may exist in certain jurisdictions but the principle is generally this one.
Under French law, schematically, when the inventor had an inventive mission, the employer must give him an “additional remuneration” which must be proportionate in the light of the commercial success of the invention. When the inventor did not have an inventive mission, but realized the invention in the field of the company, the situation is generally equivalent.
But what happens in a case where the ivention is published without having filed any application?
Indeed, the fruit of an invention is really substantial only in the case of the sale of an industrial property title implying a monopoly.
This is the situation in which Jean-Michel Lerussé, a former employee of the Kéolis group in charge of the subway of Rennes (FR), found himself.
Mr. Lerussé was hired by the Keolis group in 2002, when the first subway line for Rennes was commissioned. He spent long hours cleaning the subways by hand with water jets, a brush, a bucket of water and soap. This represented nearly 1,000 hours of work and 60% of their activity. Washing was used to limit accumulations of graphite that could cause serious short circuits.
Tired of these tedious operations, this former mechanic, after working nights, designed and built a water jet cleaning machine with washing bars and high-pressure nozzles on a maintenance train.
Mr Lerussé consideres today that the Keolis Group has never acknowledged his work and has removed any chance of being protected by making a public disclosure of the invention. As a consequence of this, a filing of a patent application is no longer possible, and Mr. Lerussé can not claim any additional remuneration on this basis.
In this type of situation, it is possible to pursue remedies on the basis of the general law on responsibility. It must be established that there was a fault, a damage and a causal link relating to them.
In the case in point, Mr Lerussé states that:
– in 2002, the agents could clean 3,643 m of lanes in 30 nights and that amounted to € 5.22 per meter;
– in 2016, thanks to his invention, they could clean 46,432 m in 53 nights and it came back to € 0.67 per meter.
This allowed Keolis to save 87% on maintenance.
This saving can be determined in terms of income for the patent holder for example on the basis of royalties from almost all metro maintenance companies in the world.
It is an income from which Mr. Lerussé can no longer benefit what constitutes a damaged, caused by the public disclosure of the Keolis group.
It is surely on the basis of a calculation of this type that Mr. Lerussé and his lawyer came to claim the group Keolis 25 million euros.
The lawsuit between Mr. Lerusé and Keolis takes place today (November 20, 2018), The judgment is eagerly awaited. As far as the French case law is concerned in this matter, it is not necessary that an application for the invention was filed to avail itself of the additional remuneration, yet will it establish with probity that the damage is actually 25 millions of euros …
Stay connected, we will let you know of the update …