Employers should not operate under the assumption that they are automatically entitled to all intellectual property created by employees as the rules in this area are particularly complicated.
The general position under Greek law is that the initial beneficiary of the proprietary and moral right in intellectual property is the employee that created the works in the performance of an employment contract. Only such powers arising from the proprietary right as are necessary for fulfillment of the purpose of the agreement are transferred to the employer by operation of law. The transfer of intellectual property rights to the employer occurs automatically only to the extent that there is no agreement to the contrary between the employer and employee which may exclude, restrict or broaden ownership and assignment of intellectual property rights.
According to case law of the Supreme Court, this rule is interpreted as more generally applying without any distinction as to whether the individuals creating the works were hired as employees or independent contractors and therefore transfer by operation of law applies to both cases.
Where justified by the nature of the relationship, particularly where the employer has made a significant contribution to the employer’s intellectual creation, having assumed the business risk and essentially financed the creation of works, the employer has a legitimate right to broaden the scope of transferred rights through detailed provisions in the employment contract. For the employer to secure additional rights and to avoid any legal uncertainty, the contract should, amongst others, explicitly provide that the purpose of employment is the creation of intellectual property and should state that the employee’s remuneration includes good and valuable consideration for the exploitation of intellectual property rights in work created by the employee.
Each business has specific requirements as regards the terms and conditions of employment contracts concluded with their employees. At Calypsis Legal Partners, we tailor the contents of employment contracts to suit the needs of the employer by taking into consideration the business sector in which our clients operate, the employee’s role and the value for the business of works created by their employees.
This article is for informational purposes and does not substitute the need to obtain specific legal advice on a case-by-case basis.