Wie funktionieren Patente im Weltraum?

Der Bericht des EPAs zur Konferenz „Innovation, Weltraumtechnik und Patente“ ist online verfügbar.

Für mich am spannendsten:

Gibt es Patentschutz auf Dinge, die im Weltraum landen bzw. wie wirkt sich der aus?

Auszug aus dem Bericht:

Stefan Luginbuehl (Head of European Legal Affairs Department, European and International Legal Affairs, EPO) pointed out that, under the existing legal provisions, a great deal of legal interpretation is required when dealing with the enforcement of patents for inventions used in outer space. This results in an unsatisfactory degree of legal certainty. When it comes to patent protection for inventions used in outer space, clear national and international rules on applicable laws would therefore improve the situation. Achieving more legal certainty would be a great step forward in view of the plans for increased commercial exploitation of outer space.

Emmanuel Ajdari (Space Systems Intellectual Property Manager, Airbus Defence and Space, Toulouse, France) said that current international agreements were commonly interpreted as:
– granting an exemption such that satellites entering a country could be launched in that country, even if doing so contravened a patent valid there;
– regarding satellites registered in a country as falling under the territory of that country as far as patents were concerned.
In France and the USA, these two interpretations have been translated into national law. In other countries they have not, creating some legal uncertainties. Consideration of territorial aspects is very important in drafting and interpreting patent claims related to satellites, as manufacturing, launch and operation might involve many different countries.

Und wie sieht es mit Erfindungen aus, die im Weltraum gemacht werden?

Auszug aus dem Bericht:

Heli Pihlajamaa (Director Patent Law, EPO) introduced this topic, and confirmed that the general legal requirements for patentability apply to inventions in outer space too. Securing patent rights for these inventions enables a return on investments made in space technologies. Patents are granted for inventions in all fields of technology, if they are new, involve an inventive step and are industrially applicable. Patent law is neutral as to where the invention has been made or where it could be applied. Inventions made in outer space, for example on the ISS, are, therefore, in principle, patentable. However, specific questions might arise when determining the prior art for assessing the novelty and inventive step of inventions involving space technologies. There are no limitations on the place of disclosure of prior art. Nevertheless, disclosure made on condition of confidentiality cannot be taken into account. This might apply to data generated on board the ISS, which is, in principle, confidential. Another difficulty might relate to determining when exactly the disclosure in outer space took place. The burden of proof in this respect lies with the party claiming that the information was public. Inventorship and ownership of inventions made in outer space is determined under national law, which might include assessing employment and co-operation agreements. Similarly to ships and aeroplanes, registered space objects are treated as the quasi-territory of the country in which they are registered. This is one of the principles which could be applied when determining the national law applicable for establishing inventorship and ownership.

Und falls jemand glaubt, solche Patent gibt es nicht wirklich: Auf @patentguys habe ich mal die NASA Anmeldung US 5,145,130 A „Robot serviced space facility“ gehabt 🙂 So Sachen gibt es wirklich! Das Bild ganz oben ist aus dieser Anmeldung. Und warum soll so ein modularer Aufbau einer Wohnstruktur nicht auch auf der Erde nutzbar sein?


A robot serviced space facility includes multiple modules which are identical in physical structure, but selectively differing in function and purpose. Each module includes multiple like attachment points which are identically placed on each module so as to permit interconnection with immediately adjacent modules. Connection is made through like outwardly extending flange assemblies having identical male and female configurations for interconnecting to and locking to a complementary side of another flange. Multiple rows of interconnected modules permit force, fluid, data and power transfer to be accomplished by redundant circuit paths. Redundant modules of critical subsystems are included. Redundancy of modules and of interconnections results in a space complex with any module being removable upon demand, either for module replacement or facility reconfiguration, without eliminating any vital functions of the complex. Module replacement and facility assembly or reconfiguration are accomplished by a computer controlled articulated walker type robotic manipulator arm assembly having two identical end-effectors in the form of male configurations which are identical to those on module flanges and which interconnect to female configurations on other flanges. The robotic arm assembly moves along a connected set or modules by successively disconnecting, moving and reconnecting alternate ends of itself to a succession of flanges in a walking type maneuver. To transport a module, the robot keeps the transported module attached to one of its end-effectors and uses another flange male configuraiton of the attached module as a substitute end-effector during walking.

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