Patent Owner Vs. Patent Inventor: A Simple Guide for 2023

Patent Owner Vs Patent Inventor

In a world driven by innovation and intellectual property, the relationship between patent owners and patent inventors plays a critical role in safeguarding and promoting groundbreaking inventions.

Patents serve as the bedrock of protection, granting exclusive rights and privileges to those who conceive and develop novel creations.

However, understanding the distinction between patent owners and patent inventors, as well as their intertwined roles and responsibilities, is essential for navigating the complex landscape of intellectual property rights.

The patent owner stands as the guardian of the granted patent, holding the legal rights to exploit and commercialize the invention. With these rights come a host of exclusive privileges, including the ability to use, sell, license, or enforce the patented technology.

On the other hand, the patent inventor is the visionary behind the invention, the creative force that conceived and developed the groundbreaking idea. Their responsibility lies in accurately disclosing the invention through a meticulously crafted patent application, where they provide detailed descriptions and claims that establish the novelty and non-obviousness of their brainchild.

As we delve deeper into the relationship between patent owners and patent inventors, we will explore the various scenarios where they can be the same entity or different entities. We will examine how ownership rights are typically assigned or shared among different parties, shedding light on the importance of agreements and contracts in determining the ownership of a patent.

Join us on this intellectual journey as we unravel the intricate web woven by patent owners and patent inventors, and discover the pivotal roles they play in driving innovation, protecting intellectual property, and shaping the landscape of modern technology.


Patents are legal instruments that provide inventors with exclusive rights to their creations for a defined period, typically 20 years from the date of application filing. The primary objective of patents is to foster innovation by incentivizing inventors to disclose their inventions in exchange for a temporary monopoly over their use and commercialization. This legal protection ensures that inventors can recoup their investments in research and development and encourages the dissemination of technological knowledge.

In academia, the significance of patents is pronounced in fields like biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. For example, the development of a groundbreaking pharmaceutical compound often involves significant research and financial investment. Patents on such compounds grant inventors and their affiliated institutions the exclusive rights to manufacture and market the product. These exclusive rights, in turn, enable companies to recoup their investments and incentivize further research, leading to the development of new life-saving drugs.

Within the framework of patent law, it is essential to recognize that there are two distinct roles: patent owners and patent inventors. While in many cases, these roles overlap, they can also be distinct entities. This distinction serves several critical purposes within the patent system.

From an academic perspective, this distinction is particularly relevant when considering university research and technology transfer offices. University researchers, often driven by intellectual curiosity, may invent novel technologies. In such cases, the university may assert ownership over the patents, as per their institutional policies. These patents can then be licensed to third-party companies, who become the owners and commercialize the technology. This separation of inventorship and ownership facilitates technology transfer from academia to industry, promoting the practical application of academic research.

Furthermore, recognizing both patent owners and inventors helps strike a balance between promoting innovation by individuals or research institutions and facilitating investment and commercialization by businesses. This balance ensures that academic research can translate into tangible societal benefits while safeguarding the interests of inventors and the institutions they are affiliated with.

In the academic context, understanding the roles of patent owners and inventors is essential for navigating technology transfer agreements, protecting intellectual property rights, and promoting collaboration between academia and industry, ultimately driving the progress of science and technology.

Before We Proceed

Understanding the dynamics between patent owners and patent inventors is crucial as you dive into the fascinating world of patents. Whether you’re just starting your journey with provisional patents and want to safeguard your innovative ideas, exploring the intricacies of the patent application process from search to maintenance, or delving into the exciting realm of patent monetization, this knowledge serves as the foundation for your intellectual property endeavours.

Discover how inventors’ ideas evolve into valuable assets, how patent ownership is established, and how the world of patents offers opportunities for protection, growth, and even financial gain.

Dive into our blog posts on provisional patents, the patent application process, and patent monetization to gain deeper insights into this captivating domain and empower your innovation-driven goals

Patent Owner

The patent owner is the individual, organization, or entity that holds the legal rights to a granted patent. They have the exclusive authority to make decisions regarding the patent’s use, licensing, enforcement, and transfer. The role of a patent owner is to protect and leverage their intellectual property for various purposes, including commercialization and financial gain.

Example: Imagine a tech company, “InnoTech Corp,” which specializes in developing innovative software solutions. When their software engineers invent a novel algorithm for data compression, InnoTech Corp becomes the patent owner. As the patent owner, InnoTech Corp can decide how to utilize this patented technology to gain a competitive edge in the market.

Upon receiving a granted patent from the government patent office (e.g., the United States Patent and Trademark Office ), the patent owner is legally recognized as the sole entity with the rights to the invention. This legal protection ensures that others cannot use, make, sell, or license the patented invention without the owner’s permission.

Example: Suppose InnoTech Corp is granted a patent for their data compression algorithm. This patent legally prohibits other companies from developing or selling software that uses the same algorithm without InnoTech Corp’s consent.

Exclusive Rights and Privileges of a Patent Owner

As the patent owner, InnoTech Corp enjoys several exclusive rights and privileges. They have the right to use the patented algorithm in their products and services, sell products incorporating the technology, license the technology to other companies for a fee, and enforce their patent rights by taking legal action against infringing parties.

Example: InnoTech Corp may choose to integrate the patented data compression algorithm into their software products, sell these products in the market, and license the algorithm to other software companies in exchange for royalties. If a competitor attempts to use the same algorithm without permission, InnoTech Corp can enforce its patent rights through legal action.

Transfer of Patent Ownership

Patent ownership is not fixed and can be transferred or assigned to another party through various means, such as selling, licensing, or bequeathing it in a will. This flexibility allows patent owners to monetize their inventions, collaborate with other entities, or pass on their intellectual property to heirs or business partners.

Example: InnoTech Corp may decide to sell the patent for their data compression algorithm to a larger tech company interested in the technology. The new owner would then assume all the rights and responsibilities associated with the patent, while InnoTech Corp receives compensation for the sale.

In summary, the role of a patent owner involves legal ownership, exclusive rights, and the ability to make decisions regarding the patented invention. Ownership can also be transferred or assigned, providing flexibility for commercialization and collaboration.

Death of Patent Owner During the Lifetime of Patent

When the owner of a patent dies during the lifetime of the patent, several scenarios and potential outcomes can occur, depending on the legal and financial arrangements in place at the time of their death. Here are some common possibilities:

  1. Transfer to Heirs or Estate: If the patent owner had a will or estate plan in place, the ownership of the patent may be transferred to their heirs or specified beneficiaries as part of their estate. The patent can then continue to be owned and maintained by the designated individuals or entities.
  2. Sale or Transfer in a Will: The patent owner may have included provisions in their will or estate plan for the sale or transfer of the patent to a specific individual, organization, or entity. This transfer can occur according to the terms specified in the will.
  3. Inheritance Laws: In the absence of a will or estate plan, inheritance laws of the relevant jurisdiction will determine how the patent ownership is transferred. Typically, patents can be inherited by the patent owner’s spouse, children, or other legal heirs.
  4. Ownership by a Business Entity: If the patent owner was a part of a business or organization, the patent may be owned by that entity. In such cases, the patent may continue to be held by the business, even if the individual patent owner passes away.
  5. Sale or Transfer by the Estate: In some cases, the patent may be sold or transferred by the deceased patent owner’s estate executor to satisfy debts, distribute assets, or fulfill the wishes of the deceased. The proceeds from the sale may go to the estate or beneficiaries.
  6. Maintenance of the Patent: Regardless of the ownership transfer, it is essential to ensure that the maintenance fees for the patent are paid on time to keep it in force. Failure to pay these fees can lead to the expiration of the patent.
  7. Licensing Agreements: If the patent owner had entered into licensing agreements with other parties, these agreements may continue to be in effect after the owner’s death. The licensor or their estate may still be entitled to royalties or other benefits specified in the agreements.

It’s important to note that patent laws and regulations can vary by jurisdiction, so the specific procedures and rules governing the transfer of patent ownership upon the death of the owner may differ from one place to another. Therefore, it’s advisable for patent owners to consult with legal professionals and include provisions related to their patents in their estate planning to ensure a smooth transition of ownership in the event of their passing.

Patent Inventor

In academic terms, a patent inventor is an individual or a group of individuals who contribute significantly to the conception and development of a novel and non-obvious invention. Their role is rooted in scientific or technical expertise, and they are the driving force behind the creation of a new and innovative solution to a problem or the advancement of existing technology.

Example: Within an academic research setting, consider a team of physicists working on quantum computing. The scientists in this team are the inventors because they actively conceived and developed a groundbreaking algorithm that could revolutionize quantum computing.

In academia, patent inventors are typically individuals who possess specialized knowledge and skills in their respective fields. They are responsible for formulating the initial idea, conducting experiments or research, and refining the invention into a practical, working solution. Their expertise and contribution are fundamental to the invention’s development.

Example: In a university laboratory, a group of biochemists collaborates to design and synthesize a new enzyme for use in biotechnology applications. The biochemists, as inventors, conceive the idea, conduct experiments to develop the enzyme, and provide the technical knowledge required for its patent application.

Patent Inventor’s Responsibility

In the academic context, inventors have a dual responsibility: to create and to disseminate knowledge. When they invent something novel, they must fulfill their responsibility to disclose the details of their invention through a comprehensive patent application. This disclosure serves to document the innovation, ensuring it becomes part of the public record and contributing to the advancement of knowledge.

Example: Within a university research environment, a team of engineers develops a new energy-efficient technology for solar panels. They have a responsibility to prepare a detailed patent application that describes the technology’s design, functionality, and unique features, thus contributing to the body of knowledge in the field of renewable energy.

Patent Inventors and the Patent Document

In academia, the recognition of inventors is a critical aspect of the patent process. Their names are typically included in the patent document, affirming their contributions and roles in the invention’s development. This recognition not only establishes the priority of their work but also enhances the credibility of the invention within the academic community and the broader scientific or technical field.

Example: In the event of multiple research teams independently discovering similar scientific advancements, the names of the inventors who file for patent protection first are recognized as the original inventors. This acknowledgement can influence academic and professional recognition and can be crucial in academic discussions and publications.

In summary, within an academic context, patent inventors are responsible for advancing knowledge through innovation, and their role is characterized by expertise, creation, and disclosure. Their recognition and inclusion in the patent document establish priority and credibility, ensuring that their contributions to scientific and technical fields are acknowledged and documented.

Royalty Amount to Patent Inventors

The amount of royalty paid to a patent inventor can vary widely and depends on various factors, including the terms negotiated in licensing agreements, the industry, the value of the patented technology, and the bargaining power of the parties involved. There is no fixed or standardized royalty rate for patent licensing, and the terms of each agreement are typically determined through negotiation.

Here are some factors that can influence the royalty amount paid to a patent inventor:

  1. Industry Norms: Different industries may have established norms or benchmarks for royalty rates. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, royalty rates for licensing patented drugs can range from single-digit percentages to much higher percentages of sales, depending on the uniqueness and market potential of the drug.
  2. Value of the Technology: The perceived value of the patented technology plays a significant role. If the technology is groundbreaking and has the potential to generate substantial revenue for the licensee, the inventor may negotiate for a higher royalty rate.
  3. Market Competition: The level of competition in the market for the patented technology can impact royalty rates. In a highly competitive market, licensors may be willing to accept lower royalty rates to secure licensing agreements.
  4. Negotiation Skills: The negotiating skills and leverage of both parties can influence the royalty rate. An inventor or patent owner with strong bargaining power may secure a more favorable royalty rate.
  5. Royalty Structure: Royalties can be structured in various ways. They can be based on a percentage of sales, a fixed per-unit payment, a combination of both, or other arrangements. The structure can affect the overall amount paid to the inventor.
  6. Patent Portfolio: If a company or individual holds multiple patents related to a technology, the royalty rate for each patent may be negotiated separately or as part of a package deal.
  7. Duration of the Agreement: The duration of the licensing agreement can also impact the total royalty payments. Some agreements may be for a fixed term, while others may be ongoing for the life of the patent.
  8. Territorial Considerations: Royalty rates can vary by region or territory. Different rates may apply for licensing the same patent in different countries or markets.

It’s important for inventors and patent owners to seek legal counsel and engage in thorough negotiations when entering into licensing agreements to ensure that they receive fair compensation for their patented technology. Additionally, royalty rates and terms can be subject to review and adjustment over time, depending on the contract’s provisions, market changes, and other factors.

Relationship between Patent Owner and Patent Inventor

  1. Individual Inventor as Patent Owner: In some cases, the patent inventor and the patent owner can be the same individual. This occurs when the inventor files the patent application and obtains the granted patent in their own name. Example: Thomas Edison, who invented numerous technologies and held the patent rights as an individual inventor. Edison personally owned the patents for inventions like the phonograph and the electric lamp.
  2. Employee-Inventor and Employer as Patent Owner: When an employee invents something within the scope of their employment, the employer typically becomes the patent owner. This is known as “work-for-hire” or “employer-employee” invention scenarios. Example: In many technology companies, inventions created by their employees during the course of employment become the property of the company. For instance, inventions made by engineers at Google or Apple are typically owned by the respective companies.
  3. Collaboration or Joint Ownership: In cases where multiple inventors collaborate and contribute to the invention, they may become joint owners of the patent. Example: The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, jointly owned the patent for their invention of the airplane. They collaborated and shared the inventiveness required for their pioneering aircraft.
  4. Assignment or Transfer of Ownership: Inventors may assign or transfer their patent rights to another party, making them the patent owner. Example: An inventor may sell their patent rights to a company or assign them to a research institution. For instance, inventors may transfer their patent rights to a pharmaceutical company for commercialization in the medical industry.

Ownership Rights Assignment and Sharing

Ownership rights can be assigned or shared among different parties based on various arrangements:

  • Assignment: Inventors can transfer their patent rights to another entity or individual through a legal contract or agreement, making the assignee the new patent owner. This arrangement is common when the inventors themselves initially hold the patent rights and wish to sell or transfer those rights entirely to another party. Example: Consider an inventor who has patented a novel medical device. In this case, the inventor may decide to assign their patent rights to a medical equipment manufacturing company. Through a formal assignment agreement, the inventor relinquishes all ownership rights to the patent, allowing the manufacturing company to gain exclusive rights to produce, market, and sell the patented medical device. As a result, the manufacturing company becomes the new patent owner, assuming full control over the technology.
  • Licensing: Inventors can alternatively choose to grant licenses to others, permitting them to use the patented invention while the inventors retain ownership. Licensees receive specific rights to utilize the invention under the terms outlined in the licensing agreement. This approach is often employed when inventors wish to maintain ownership of their patented technology but allow others to use it in exchange for predetermined fees, royalties, or other considerations. Example: Imagine a software developer who has patented a groundbreaking algorithm for data encryption. Instead of transferring ownership, the developer decides to license the patented algorithm to a technology company. Through a licensing agreement, the technology company gains the right to use the algorithm in its software products, while the developer retains ownership. In return for this right, the technology company agrees to pay the developer royalties on sales of products that incorporate the patented algorithm. This arrangement enables the technology company to benefit from the innovation while allowing the inventor to continue owning the patent and receive compensation for its use.

These mechanisms provide inventors and patent owners with flexibility in managing patent ownership and deriving benefits from their patented technology, depending on their specific objectives and strategies.

Importance of Agreements and Contracts:

  • Agreements and contracts play a crucial role in determining ownership of a patent and clarifying the rights and responsibilities of the involved parties:
    1. Employment Contracts: Employment agreements often include provisions regarding the ownership of inventions created by employees during their employment. These agreements specify whether the employer or the employee will hold the patent rights. Example: Research scientists working at a pharmaceutical company may have contractual agreements stipulating that any inventions related to their work will be owned by the company.
    2. Assignment Agreements: Inventors may enter into assignment agreements to transfer their ownership rights to another party. These agreements outline the terms and conditions of the transfer. Example: An independent inventor may enter into an assignment agreement with a startup company, assigning the patent rights to the company in exchange for financial compensation.
    3. Licensing Agreements: Licensing agreements establish the terms under which the patent owner grants others the right to use the patented invention. These agreements define the scope, duration, and financial terms of the license. Example: A university may license its patented technology to a biotech company

Here’s a tabular comparison between patent owners and patent inventors based on various parameters:

ParametersPatent OwnerPatent Inventor
DefinitionHolds the legal rights to a granted patent.The individual or group that conceived and developed the invention.
Legal RightsExclusive rights and privileges granted by the patent system, including the right to use, sell, license, or enforce the patented invention.Recognized as the original creator of the invention and acknowledged as the inventor in the patent document.
Relationship to PatentHolds the patent rights as the owner.Named as the inventor in the patent document.
ResponsibilityEnsures the protection and enforcement of the patent rights.Discloses the invention through a patent application, providing a detailed description and claims.
Ownership TransferOwnership can be transferred or assigned to another party through legal agreements or contracts.Ownership is typically assigned based on agreements or may be shared jointly in collaborative inventing scenarios.
ExamplesA company or individual that acquires or is granted the patent rights.Thomas Edison, an individual inventor who held numerous patents for his inventions.
Importance in Patent SystemPlays a vital role in exploiting and commercializing the invention through exclusive rights.Establishes the priority and credibility of the invention and the rights of the inventor.
Comparison between patent owners and patent inventors


In conclusion, the relationship between patent owners and patent inventors is crucial in the world of intellectual property. Patent owners, whether individuals, companies, or organizations, hold the legal rights to a granted patent and have exclusive rights and privileges associated with the patented invention. They play a vital role in protecting, exploiting, and commercializing the invention, exercising their rights to use, sell, license, or enforce the patent.

On the other hand, patent inventors are the individuals or groups who conceive and develop the invention. They bear the responsibility of disclosing the invention through a patent application, providing a detailed description and claims that establish the novelty and non-obviousness of their creation. Inventors are typically named in the patent document, and their recognition is crucial in establishing the priority and credibility of the invention.

The relationship between patent owners and inventors can take various forms. They can be the same entity, as in the case of individual inventors who also hold patent rights. Alternatively, the patent owner can be an employer in scenarios where employees invent something within the scope of their employment. Collaboration among inventors can lead to joint ownership, while ownership rights can also be assigned or shared through agreements or contracts.

Agreements and contracts play a pivotal role in determining ownership and clarifying the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Employment contracts, assignment agreements, and licensing agreements help define the ownership of the patent and establish the terms under which the patented invention can be used or transferred.

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Dr. Vijay Rajpurohit
Author: Dr. Vijay Rajpurohit
Dr. Vijay Rajpurohit is a researcher in Computer Science. He loves to educate researchers and research scholars on Research Paper Writing, Thesis Writing, Research Grants, Patenting Research Work and the latest Research-related issues. You can reach him @ [email protected]