Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
Click here for more details

Belgium > Legal Developments > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Intellectual property rights of an employee

In a judgment of 14 January 2011, the Labour Court of Appeals of Brussels defined more precisely the rules concerning intellectual property rights of an employee regarding a patent (invention), and rejected a claim for compensation of an employee.


Until now, under Belgian Law there is no statutory scheme for property rights of patents that are developed in connection with the employment contract. On the contrary, specific legal provisions exist regarding for example copyrights, software, design rights, etc. Specific for copyright is that the employer can only acquire them on the basis of an explicit agreement with its employees regarding a transfer of rights. The reverse rule applies concerning software: the employer can claim all rights on software developed in the framework of the employment contract, unless otherwise agreed.

The legal theory and case law concerning patents assumes that a distinction has to be made between service inventions, dependent inventions and free inventions and that only the property rights on service inventions accrue to the employer. In this case, the employer could prove that the employee was charged with an inventive task in the framework of which the invention came about.

The judgment of the Labour Court of Appeals of Brussels points to the importance for the employer to – in the employment contract or a later addendum – insert a correct clause concerning the transfer of intellectual property rights. If not, the employer risks to be confronted with a (potentially high financial) claim of creative employees. Moreover, in these cases the employees can (try to) undermine the proper operation of the business by starting judicial procedures like seizure or summary proceedings.


For more information please visit




Interview with...

Law firm partners and practice heads explain how their firms are adapting to clients' changing needs

International Law Firm Networks