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Assigning and Licensing A Patent

An inventor has the right to assign or license the patent to others. The most common type of an assignment is when employees assign their inventions to the company. The inventor can enter into a license agreement with manufacturers and marketing specialists who can manufacture and market the patent with the payment of a royalty to the licensor.

Assignment is the “transfer of ownership of a patent application or patent from one entity to another”. The inventor can transfer some or all the patent rights. The person or company to whom the patent is assigned is called the “assignee” and the inventor or company assigning the patent is called the “assignor”. The assignment will transfer the patent rights to the assignee making the assignee the owner of the patent. In case of a joint inventor, more than one inventor can be the assignor. An assignment is usually signed by the assignor before a notary public and recorded with the patent office of that country. Most technology companies have their employees assign their patent applications or patents to the Company because the inventions or the patentable ideas were discovered using the companies’ resources and time. Another reason is that there may be more than one inventor for a patent, which would mean that each inventor would hold all the rights to the patent, which complicates the situation. Therefore, the patent or the patent application is assigned to a company thereby transferring all the patent rights to one entity instead of having the patent owned by multiple inventors. A patent or patent application can also be assigned by an inventor to another person(s) or company for some consideration. An assignment can transfer whole or part of the interest in the patent.

A patent license is a grant given by the owner of the patent to another to exercise all or any of the rights in the patent without being sued for patent infringement. The person or company granting the license is called the “licensor” and the person or company receiving the license is called the “licensee”. A license is granted to the licensee on the payment of agreed royalties. Like an assignment, a patent license is a written agreement signed by the parties and this agreement must specifically mention the patent rights to be licensed as per the agreement and the agreed upon royalty amounts. This license agreement is specific to the requirements of the parties concerned and like a patent assignment; a patent license must be recorded with the U.S.PTO. When an inventor or inventors do not have the resources to make and market their invention, the inventor may consider licensing these rights to a company that has the resources to do so. This means that the licensee might be given the right to use the invention or the right to sell the invention or produce and market the invention. However, the licensee would not have the right to further assign or license the invention and will not be the owner of the patent.
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