IMPORTANT REGULATORY INTERVENTION ABOUT THE INVENTION OF THE SELF-EMPLOYED
On June 14, the Law of 22 May 2017 no. 81 entered into force, (“Jobs Act for self-employed persons”), which contains some measures concerning the issue of self-employed inventions, including in particular all rights relating to creative inventions and contributions, unless inventive activity is the subject of the contract of employment and is compensated for that purpose.
In particular, the regulatory intervention of the discussed topic of the right to self-employment is represented by Art. 4 of the aforementioned law, which states that: “Unless the inventive activity is foreseen as the subject of the employment contract and for that purpose compensated, the economic use rights relating to original contributions and inventions made in the performance of the contract are to self-employed person, in accordance with the provisions of Law 22 April 1941, no. 633, and the Industrial Property Code, as per Legislative Decree no. 30 “.
This article thus incorporates the principles already established in the case-law and doctrine that the self-employed person acquires all the rights to the invention, unless there is an employment agreement with the contractor for such inventive activity and a specific remuneration for this activity.
The legislative intervention in question thus clarifies the difference between self-employment contract rules and those laid down for the subordinate worker, where the employer is, however, entitled to acquire all the rights relating to the invention of the employee, unless otherwise agreed. While in the case of the subordinate worker the rules of the intellectual property code and copyright law shall apply the general principles of labor law and take into account as the holder of rights the role of the employer, resulting in the acquisition of all the faculties of the invention, in the case of the self-employed person is the opposite: the rights attaching to the creations of the self-employed person will be his / her title, unless the client has been concerned about disciplining and paying for the acquisition of the rights to the invention.
It is understood, therefore, that in the case of the self-employed person, the contractual text becomes the sole source of acquisition of the rights of the contractor and the careful preparation of the same is of crucial importance. This need does not exist if the invention is brought to an end by the subordinate worker since it is the same law that prescribes everything to the employer, provided that the inventive tasks are included in the contract.
There is then a further interpretative theme represented by the expression “original contributions” in the article. This expression appears at first glance generic and inaccurate. Indeed, the expression “original contributions” seems to have been deliberately chosen by the legislator in order to involve in a non-selective manner all the original works protected by the rules on intellectual property. However, the use of a generic and not technical expression makes it complex to determine whether the lawmaker intended to limit the novel to inventions and original creations to this assimilate, or whether it also wanted to intercept other than inventions, such as non-proprietary rights (know-how, copyright, etc.). At a first reading of the rule it would seem sustainable that the rule may also include works other than inventions, provided that there is the originality of the self-employed worker’s contribution.