From Intellectual Property Rights for Engineers, Second Edition

4.10 Patent ownership and transfer of rights

Being an inventor and owning a patent are not necessarily the same thing. The inventor is the person who devises the invention; if two or more engineers generate the idea while working together, then they are joint inventors, provided each has made a genuine contribution to the inventive concept. Merely testing an idea on the instructions of the inventor, or building the first device to the inventor's sketches, or being the manager of the inventor's department, are not sufficient to constitute inventorship. The inventor must be named on the patent application forms and has the right to be named in the granted patent.

If the inventor-engineer is an employee and the invention was made as part of the engineer's normal work, then the engineer's employer will own the rights (see Chapter 7 for full details). If the invention was made during work carried out under contract, the contract conditions may state that the company paying for the work is to own the patent rights, and may even have the right to file the patent application.

After a patent has been granted, it can be sold to someone else assigned or someone else can be permitted to use the claimed invention, that is, the patent can be licensed (see Chapter 9). If the owner is willing to grant licences to anyone who applies, the patent can be formally stamped Licence of Right and the renewal fees are then halved. When a patent...

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