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Who Can Be Considered an Inventor on My Patent Application?

In general, it’s good practice to list everyone that has made a contribution to a substantive or significant portion of the invention as an inventor. Legally, an inventor is anyone who has contributed to what is claimed as the invention you wish to protect. Remember, you can always add or remove inventors from the listing as necessary, so long as you had no “deceptive intent” in improperly listing the inventorship initially. The following scenarios may help you better understand who to list as an inventor.

Scenario One
When a first team member has provided all of the ideas for the invention, and the second team member has only followed instructions in making the invention, the patent application should only list the first team member as an inventor.

Scenario Two
If each team member contributed to the ideas forming the invention they may be considered joint inventors and a patent may be issued to them jointly.

Scenario Three
If an employee provides all of the ideas for conceiving and developing the invention and his employer provides all of the financial support in realizing the invention, only the employee shall be considered an inventor.

However, in this scenario, the employee may be obligated by Employment Contract to assign his patent rights for the invention to his employer. In this instance, the employer may be considered an ‘assignee’ of the invention, but is still not an inventor.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.

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