Inventorship Issues: Get It Right From the Start
The Eureka Moment – But Who Exactly Eureka’d?
We all know the moment – the sudden flash of genius that leads to a groundbreaking new invention! The late nights tinkering in the garage have paid off. That scrap of paper covered in sketches and scribbles might just change the world. You excitedly call your partners to share the good news. But in that moment of euphoria, have you considered who exactly will be credited as the inventor?
Inventorship issues trip up many patent applications. Determining who qualifies as an inventor can have profound impacts on ownership rights. Surprisingly, many small businesses gloss over inventorship questions in their moment of discovery. But larger companies with extensive R&D programs know that naming the proper inventing entity is vital.
According to analysis by Global Patent Solutions, over 20% of patent applications from first-time inventors fail to properly identify inventorship initially. This leads to delays, confusion over rights, and increased costs down the road. So before racing to file that patent application, take time to thoroughly evaluate inventorship.
Under U.S. law, an inventor must contribute to the claimed subject matter by either (1) conceiving of the complete invention or (2) contributing to the conception of at least one claim element. Merely helping to reduce the invention to practice is not enough for inventorship. Advisors, colleagues offering insights, or lab assistants do not qualify either. Identifying everyone who meets the legal criteria prevents issues with ownership and validity.
Proper inventorship also indirectly supports other patentability requirements. Applications with accurate inventors are more likely to fully disclose prior collaborative efforts, resulting in a transparent understanding of novelty and non-obviousness considerations. And clear inventorship facilitates accurate record keeping of dates and developments, helping support priority over similar inventions from competitors.
So while the thrill of invention might distract, don’t let it derail properly documenting your Eureka! Our patent professionals at Global Patent Solutions help both large and small clients carefully evaluate inventorship issues from the initial stages, and we work with some of the best patent attorneys in the world. We understand securing your breakthrough starts first with securing proper patent inventorship.
The next time inspiration strikes, remember – have you considered exactly WHO can claim that flash of genius? With proper inventorship, it ensures the fruits of your hard work are harvestable for years to come.
What other considerations around your invention might you be overlooking in your excitement? Let’s continue the conversation!
This article is part of a series entitled “A Guide to Protecting Your Innovations”. To start the series at the beginning, click here.
Next up in our series, we answer the question: “What filing strategy should we pursue: provisional, PCT, non-provisional, continuation, etc.?”