The qualifications for inventor of a patent are simple. Any individual who comes up with an idea for a new and useful process, a new and useful machine, a new and useful manufactured item, or a new and useful chemical composition is qualified to be the inventor of a patent.
Definition of a patent
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a patent is the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for 20 years. After the USPTO issues a patent, it is up to the inventor to find someone to implement the idea. The inventor is also responsible for pursuing patent infringers who copy the invention without first getting a license from the inventor.
The modern capitalist economy embraces the concept of sharing ideas. The open exchange of ideas in the marketplace inevitably leads to innovations and improvements on the original idea. Similar ideas compete for acceptance, and consumers purchase what they think is the best idea. Good ideas become financially successful, and bad ideas get left on the shelf.
Some inventors are understandably reluctant to share their ideas in the marketplace for fear that someone will steal their idea without compensating them for it. Those inventors are entitled to keep their ideas to themselves, but they run the risk that someone else will come up with the same idea and patent it first.
Ownership of a patent
The USPTO issues the patent to the inventor and the inventor owns the patent. If more than one inventor came up with the idea, the inventors apply jointly for a patent and will be listed on the patent as joint inventors.
Age and residency qualifications
There is no age qualification for the inventor of a patent. The youngest person to receive a patent was a four-year-old girl who invented a device to grasp round knobs.
There are no citizenship or residency qualifications for the inventor of a patent. In fact, inventors from one country often patent their inventions in other countries so they can exclude residents of those countries from making, using, or selling the invention.
Assigning patent rights
Once the patent issues, the inventor can assign his or her rights – the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention – to another individual, to a group of individuals, or to a company. The new owner, referred to in legal jargon as the “assignee,” assumes all of the inventor’s rights.
An investor who makes a financial contribution to the patent is not the inventor, even if the investor financed the entire invention. For example, if a chemical company employs a scientist who creates a new chemical compound in the company laboratory, the employer will usually obtain a patent for the compound and will require the inventor to assign the patent rights to the employer.
After the assignment, the inventor is still the inventor, even though the employer owns the patent rights. Even if the patent is assigned and reassigned several times during its life cycle, the inventor remains the same.
Applying for a patent, assigning a patent, and enforcing a patent are complex, but meeting the qualifications for inventor of a patent is easy. All an individual has to do is invent a new and useful process, machine, manufactured item, or a chemical composition.