Q: If an invention company gets a patent on a potential clients idea. Does the client have any legal rights for the idea?
A: It depends on the agreement with the invention company and whether the inventor assigned his or her rights to the invention company. Inventions in the United States are patented under the name of the inventor. But inventorship and ownership are different questions. If the inventor transferred ownership of the patent to the invention company, that company owns the patent.
Patents do not protect ideas. Patents protect new structures that do something. In food processing of onions there are several patents for machines, which are structures, which cut the tops and roots from onions to prepare them for processing. Each machine has different structue and each are patent protected.
The client with only an "idea" is not ready to meet with a patent attorney. That client has to know the parts and pieces and how they go together in order to have a structure to discuss with the attorney.
if an invention company gets a patent they have filed an application describing the machine or chemical process etc stating the parts or steps and how they go together to do something.
The client with only an idea may trigger someone to realize what parts and pieces would be needed to do something but will not, unless contractually bound, be obligated to the client who had only an idea.
See a patent attorney for guidance in this matter - there may be a contractual relationship that benefits the client.
Does the client have proof of invention and a record of conversations with the company? If so, there are ways to add the client's name to the patent that the company obtained on the invention.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss further.
Liliana Di Nola-Baron, J.D., Ph.D.
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