Q: Can I request addition (inclusion) of a co-inventor's name in an already filed patent application?
The original patent application has been filed only under one inventor's name. Can a co-inventor's name be added to the original application if the application is currently being processed (but perhaps not finalized, yet) ??? What if the processing of the patent application has been completed and a patent has already been issued? Can I still request the addition (or inclusion) of a co-inventor's name on this patent???
A: The best way of resolving this problem is to approach the patent attorney or patent agent who is handling the case.
It is extremely crucial that the inventors be identified on any issued patent correctly. If the patent does not have the correct inventors, such as an inventor is missing (as may be your case) or there is a person listed on the patent that is not really an inventor, then the patent may be not enforceable.
Listing of inventors on a patent is not like a listing of authors on a journal article. As you may know, the listing of authors on a journal article is often a diplomatic issue between the various co-workers or contributors to the project. For the listing of inventors on a patent, the rules on who is and is not an inventor have been pretty well defined over the many decades, and there is no leeway to add someone who really is not an inventor or to leave out an inventor.
Many employers and workers are not that aware of all the intricacies of who can or cannot be an inventor, and try to tell the lawyer who should be listed on the patent inventors. Most lawyers are aware of this, and will do everything to get the correct workers listed as the inventors, even if it makes the managers in the client’s company unhappy. The patent lawyers do not care about the company politics, only about getting a good, quality, enforceable patent, which includes getting the right inventors listed on the patent. The patent lawyer or patent agent, of record, should be happy to talk with you, review your contribution to the current patent claims, and determining if you really are (or aren’t) an inventor.
(Of course, just because it may turn out that you indeed should be listed as an inventor, does not automatically mean that you get to be an owner of the patent. Ownership of a patent is a separate issue from inventorship.)
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