Patent Ownership

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The fact that you’ve invented something doesn’t necessarily mean that you own it, or that you own it exclusively. The articles listed below cover invention ownership rules under the patent and trade secret laws—the primary laws used to protect inventions. Although patents and trade secrets are very different, their ownership rules are essentially the same. Ownership of copyrights, which can be used to protect non-functional design elements of inventions, is discussed separately here.

Do You Own Your Invention?
Are You An Inventor?
Are You a Solo or Joint Inventor?
Voluntary and Involuntary Joint Invention and Ownership
When Contributions Lead to Joint Inventorship
Avoiding Joint Patent Ownership
Assigning and Recording Patent Ownership to Your Business
University Employees and Patents
Who Owns the Patent Rights? Employer or Inventor?
Pre-Invention Assignment Agreements
Is Your Pre-Invention Agreement Legal?
Patents and Government Employees and Contractors
Do You Own Invention Trade Secrets?

These articles are derived from What Every Inventor Needs to Know About Business & Taxes by Attorney Stephen Fishman.


For assistance with the preparation and filing of a provisional patent application, see Nolo’s Online Provisional Patent Application.