Invention is a wonderful event. It is the expression of an idea, legally identified as a unique application of an idea that has never been done the same way before. There are several rules for invention and they generally follow these guidelines.
An inventor and his or her work or idea must be attached to one of the claims that are found on the patent. The claims are the unique section of the patent that clearly states each individual claim that the patent examiners and the patent filer or their patent attorney agree upon. There must be documented proof, either in the form of a laboratory note book, affidavit or other sworn document that the contribution by the individual has added and is part of the claims of the patent.
Patents are a license from the government to sell your idea and to use it for a limited time period exclusively and once that time period is up, the idea then is in the public domain and can be used by anyone. Documenting the invention is the single most critical step in preserving your rights under patent law. Always use a bound notebook, not a spiral notebook. Always use ink pens. Always date and sign your note book pages and make sure the pages are numbered. Always write a ‘purpose’, ‘procedure’ and log your events during your experiments and finally arrive at a conclusion and write it. After you have dated and signed it, have a witness read it and declare ‘read and understood’ and date that as well. Keep all appending documents and references and when appropriate include them in your work as foot notes to your work. Keeping an accurate laboratory notebook helps establish you as an inventor. Keeping good back up material helps your patent attorney write up the background of the invention. Doing an experiment in the laboratory from a procedure written by the person who actually is the inventor does not make you an inventor.
Do not under any circumstances put your boss on the patent because you ‘discussed it’ with him or her, unless they have contributed some idea that actually works and that idea has not been previously thought of by anyone else, including yourself. Be honest. If someone does contribute a novel idea and it winds up being a part of the patent, the claims, then follow the procedure of documentation immediately. Also, after all the documents have been submitted to your patent attorney, let the patent attorney determine who is and who isn’t an inventor on the patent. This is a very rigorous process or let’s just say it should be. If a competitor even has a whiff of a person that should not be on the patent, they can ask the patent court to remove that individual and ask for patent invalidation because it is a crime to put false information in a patent. It’s serious business assigning the inventors, don’t get caught in the psychological pressure of allowing people on a patent because they are important or it’s politically correct. Remember, not everyone at the meeting has to be on the patent, unless they contribute an idea, write it up and the experiment is done and the idea is ‘enabled’.