18 thoughts on “Assignment of US patents

  1. Good point FC. This was really a simple analysis using the USPTO’s XML data that it releases each week regarding newly issued patents. Each XML file associated with each patent includes assignment information if the patent has been assigned and that assignment recorded at the USPTO. I parsed the data using an automated processor looking for the assignment information and then ran a simply query that looked at the number of patents each year and compared that with the subgroup of issued patents that did not have assignment data.

  2. So you are all willing to just accept this data on its face, “it’s on patently O it’s valid”? Really? Can we at least get a source or explanation of how, and by whom this data was collected?

  3. Patents are worthless anyway. Patents hinder innovation, not encourage it. The IP system is an unnecessary evil and should just be abolished – read Boldrin and Levines’ book: Against Intellectual Monopoly. But patent lawyers love the system because they make a good living from it.

  4. Paul observes that, post-issue, joint ownership tends to have disastrous consequences. Well that’s one thing at least, where the USA is at one with the ROW.

    Is this (and ever-more awareness of it amongst patent prosecutors) a factor contributing to an ever-greater number of apps going more tidily to issue in the name of a single owner?

  5. Surprisingly, I have to admit that 6 has a good point. The graph tends to indicate a rise in corporate ownership, but we can’t tell how much of that is a rise in foreign origin. Probably some portion of it is, because lone inventors rarely file much outside their home country. Some further analysis would be useful.

  6. Paul, perhaps I could have been kind.  But it strains credulity that any patent professional would not know the basics about who initially owns a patent.  Ned

  7. Ned, you could have said [instead of just an ad hominem] that non-assigned patents having joint inventors are jointly owned by those inventors [which has has several disasterous legal consequences].

  8. EG and Bob, good points, but consider adding as an option 4): patents issued to sole inventors not under any employment agreement – thus not needing any assignment. I suspect that could comprise a substantial portion of this surprisingly low (less than 8%) of patents issued showing no assignment?

  9. There is a difference between 1) a legally assigned patent/application; 2) a patent/application that is recorded in the patent office recordation database; and 3) a listing of an assigned owner on the issue fee payment form. While I am not sure, most likely, this data is only a database search for assignment listsings that result from #3 and there has been no effort in the above analysis to correlate #3 with #2. Of course, it would be impossible to correlate with #1 as no public record would exist for such. Therefore, this data is flawed, or should more accureately be entitled, “Assignments of US Patents wherein the patent attorney/law firm listed the assignment information on the issue fee payment form.

  10. Let me say that no indication of assignment at issuance doesn’t necessarily mean the patent is unassigned, just that there’s no recorded assignment. I’m aware of companies that employ the tactic of having the invention assigned, but not recording the assignment until after the patent issues to try to prevent others from tracking (via the Internet) where that company’s got patent assets.

  11. What is your definition of Unassigned? When there is no assignee the patent is assigned to the first named inventor. That isn’t unassigned. A more curious question would be of the patents that are unassigned at grant, how many of them are assigned to a business entity by the time the first maintenance fee event takes place.

  12. Sorry, my previous comment vanished. Here it is:

    So, with fewer than 10% of applications lacking assignment information at grant, do we need the new “ownwership information” hassles the USPTO is proposing to impose?

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