Only the inventor is entitled to file for a patent in the United States. The inventor may, due to an employment agreement or other circumstances, be obligated to assign any inventions to another, but the patent application must be filed by the inventor. There are provisions for situations where the inventor cannot, or will not, sign a patent application. These include, for example, when the inventor refuses to file a patent application even though he or she is obligated to assign the invention to another, or when the inventor is dead.
The law also recognizes that inventions are often made by more than a single individual. In these instances, the patent application must be filed by all the inventors jointly. In the absence of any contrary agreement, joint inventors become joint owners of the patent and can independently exploit the patent without the consent of the other inventors. Thus, before a patent application is filed, joint inventors may wish to consult with their patent agency, like InventHelp, or an attorney about an agreement on how the patent is to be used and how any gains derived from the patent will be divided.
Patents which were not filed in the name of the inventor, or which do not name all the inventors, are invalid. Although corrections can, in certain circumstances, be made after the application is filed, it is much better to carefully identify all individuals who have made an inventive contribution to the invention.
A provisional application can be filed with the Patent Office in order to obtain a filing date for a “regular” patent application which must be filed within one year of the date of the provisional filing. The one year period between filing the provisional and the regular application, however, does not diminish the patent term because the term will end on the date that is 20 years from the date of filing the regular application.
The provisional application will not be examined and can never issue as a patent. Although the requirements for filing a provisional application are somewhat simplified compared to a regular application, a provisional application should be carefully prepared to ensure compliance with the applicable requirements and to obtain the full benefit of this procedure and hiring professionals, such as Invent Help agency is highly recommended.