Q: What is the difference between inventor and assignee in terms of rights with a patent
The inventor is the original "owner" of the patent application/patent unless or until the inventor "assigns" (sells, gives, etc.) his or her rights in the patent to an assignee. Except for some unusual situations, the inventor listed on a patent never changes, but assignees can and often do.
A common scenario involves an employee of a company in which the employee is the inventor on a patent application. But as a condition of employment, the employee-inventor assigns the patent application to the company-assignee.
There are other less common situations in which an inventor might assign only part of his/her rights to an assignee, perhaps to raise money. Still further, in the case of co-inventors, each inventor is a 100% owner of the patent application and each can do with it what he/she wishes, so a situation could arise where one of the original inventors remains an owner of the patent and the other co-inventor assigns her rights to an assignee.
Kevin E. Flynn agrees with this answer
A: The answer from Mr. Klosowski is correct. Bottom line, if there is an assignee of the rights to a patent that is not expired and is otherwise enforceable, then you will need to deal with the assignee with respect to accessing rights to the patent.
I hope that this helps.
Kevin E Flynn
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