Understanding the distinction between patent inventorship and ownership is essential for individuals and collaborators who are looking to file a patent application for their invention to avoid misunderstandings concerning legal rights or requirements.
Here is what you need to know as an inventor to better understand patent inventorship vs ownership:
Can collaborators of an invention become Co-Inventors?
The answer is yes should there be more than one individual who contributed conceptually to the creation of the invention. Under these circumstances, these individuals will be considered as co-inventors and they are entitled to be referenced as inventors in the patent application. A collective of inventors is known as an inventorship.
What is Patent Inventorship?
Inventorship is attributed to each and every inventor who has contributed to at least one inventive process of the invention. Generally, the contribution of the inventor must be conceptual to be considered as such. Inventorship cannot be amended, bought or sold, meaning the exclusion of one or more inventor(s) from the list of inventors is not allowed. Inversely, adding another person(s) to the list of inventors is prohibited as well.
It would be helpful to determine the role and contribution of each inventor towards the invention prior to filing a patent application and the details should be listed on the application as such. When a patent is granted, each inventor owns the legal right to the patent equally to others (co-inventor).
What is Patent Ownership?
Unlike inventorship, ownership can be legally bought, transferred and sold to a third party. An ownership is a legal entity formed involving each co-inventor, with each inventor owning a stake in the invention. Individuals who are non-inventors, that is person(s) who did not contribute conceptually to the invention, may be added on as part of this legal entity. This legal entity will possess the patent rights, which will allow the entity to license and commercialise the patent as they see fit. The formation of an ownership eases business transactions concerning the patent, as each co-inventor would not have to be approached individually to reach a business conclusion.
What if an Inventor is left out of a Patent Application?
At the time of filing a patent application, all inventors are to be included in the list of inventors in the patent application. Should an inventor be left out of a patent application, the patent office must be informed in order to correct the application. Leaving out, or adding in, an inventor in bad faith may be considered as a legal offence which will render the patent invalid. The inventor who is left out has the right to start legal action and seek damanges in financial compensation.
Prior to filing a patent application, inventors, collaborators and all parties involved will need to fully understand the principles of patent inventorship and ownership to avoid any potential misunderstandings or legal disputes. Experienced patent professionals can help you clarify a person’s entitlement to patent ownership and more.
Get in touch with our patent professionals to discuss your concerns about patent inventorship and ownership for a successful patent application.