WHO OWNS A PATENT?

A patent application and any resulting patent is owned by the inventor(s) of the claimed invention, unless a written assignment is made or the inventors are under an obligation to assign the invention, such as an employment contract. Therefore, as patent claims change during prosecution of a patent application, it is possible that inventorship and potentially ownership could be impacted. In the case of more than one inventor or assignee, each joint owner of a patent may make, use, license, and sell the patented invention without the permission of or the need to account to the other joint owners. Selling the entire patent, providing an exclusive license, or pursing infringement claims, however, requires all the joint owners to work together. In view of the complications of multiple owners, it is common for jointly owned patent applications to be assigned to a single entity or allow the joint ownership to be governed by a written agreement made before development of the invention occurs. To maintain ownership records of patents and patent applications, assignments are recorded with the U.S. Patent Office.