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What is Inventorship?

Inventorship is an important concept in intellectual property law that states that only those who have made independent, conceptual contributions to an invention are considered inventors. Specifically, an inventor named on a patent application must have contributed to the conception of at least one claim featured in the application. According to US law, an inventor may also be a person who “collaborated to produce the invention through aggregate efforts.” Inventorship laws prevent those who have not significantly assisted in the creation of intellectual property from claiming IP rights. When two or more people work on an invention, they are often referred to as co-inventors.

Key Takeaways

  • In intellectual property law, inventorship refers to the creator of an invention.
  • Anyone who makes an inventive contribution to at least one claim on a patent application is considered an inventor.
  • Conception of an invention is an important factor in determining inventorship.

Determining Inventorship

Inventorship is key in determining the ownership of a potential patent, since the genuine inventor or inventors will typically claim patent rights over their invention or creation. It is typically determined by examining each person who conceived the idea or ideas behind the patent claims. According to the law, conception of an invention is defined as “the formation in the mind of the inventor, of a definite and permanent idea of the complete and operative invention, as it is thereafter to be applied in practice.” Moreover, anyone who has collaborated in efforts to produce the invention may also be named an inventor.

After understanding what constitutes inventorship, let's review a few examples of someone who would not be considered an inventor. A technician or mechanic who simply assisted an inventor in building parts of the invention is not an inventor. Also, someone who contributes an obvious element to an invention would not be an inventor. In order to prevent irrelevant parties from claiming intellectual property rights over inventions, an Inventor Mechanic Agreement may be signed. The contract states that mechanics may assist in the creation of an invention model or prototype but may not claim patent rights.

Protecting Inventorship

It would be every inventor's worst nightmare if someone falsely claimed ownership of their invention after putting a lot of time, effort and money into it. In order to protect one’s inventor right’s, he or she should have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place. The contract should include information about inventorship rights and restrictions. It will prevent a third party from sharing confidential details about the invention that may lead to an infringement of inventor rights. Furthermore, a strong NDA will prohibit the signing party from copying the invention for his or her own personal gain.

Bottom Line

When it comes to intellectual property law, inventorship can be a tricky term to grasp. However, it is a fundamental concept that is used to settle matters regarding IP infringement, patent applications and more. If you need help determining inventorship, you may want to consider seeking professional legal assistance. One of our top intellectual property lawyers would be more than happy to help.

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