Avoid patent co-ownership pitfalls


Paul J. Sutton

It is not unusual during the invention and development of newer technologies to require contributions from people skilled in many disciplines, as scientists and engineers seek to solve and overcome technological problems.

A common goal is to create a revenue-generating idea that can be patented. Co-owners of US patents possess types of legal rights that are not fully appreciated by many non-IP attorneys and by the lay public. In fact, US patent laws regarding rights of co-inventors and patent co-owners differ from those of many other western countries.

35 U.S.C. 262 governs joint patent owners and provides that:

“In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, each owner may make, use, offer to sell, or sell the patented invention within the United States, or import the patented invention into the United States without the consent of and without accounting to the other owners.”

US patents, co-ownership