Patent Ownership Issues

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Invention ownership can be a contentious issue. After all, the owner is the person entitled to control the manufacture and sale of the inventions covered in the patent. For some patents this can mean the beginning of a dynasty that lasts long after the patent expires. If Clarence Birdseye had not owned a patent for packaging frozen foods, it is unlikely the Birdseye company would be here today. The same might be true for John Mason who owned the patent for Mason jars.

This section deals with issues that arise when inventors, employers, or co-inventors assert ownership rights. We discuss the single inventor’s situation, the situation where an inventor gives up complete or partial ownership to an employer, usually under an employment agreement, and we address the complications of joint patent ownership, for example, when more than one person creates a patentable invention.