Who Should be Named First on a Patent? - Thompson Patent Law

Who Should be Named First on a Patent?

does Order of inventors matter? 

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Does it matter in what order inventors are named in a patent?

The order of inventors has no legal significance. None. The order of inventors is entirely up to the leadership of the group. Legally speaking, our main concern is that the list is complete and accurate.

Practically speaking, there has to be some order in the list of inventors named on the front of the patent. By logical deduction, one of the names has to be listed first. 

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The potential concern is more emotional or political.

Here is the great concern….in some cases, which tend to be rather rare in my experience, when some people are not listed first, that individual may feel they should have gotten top billing. In other words, someone’s ego might be bruised if their name is not listed first. 

Yes, it does happen. 

Some may covet the prestige in being named first, because the patent may be referred to (in certain legal documents and on the header of the issued patent) in shorthand by the first inventor’s last name, such as:

Smith, et al. (et al. being Latin for “and others”). 

In some cases, a patent valuation may be enhanced by naming a recognizably branded person (e.g., Gates, Jobs) as first-named inventor.

We never intend to expose any hurt feelings when we ask this potentially delicate question, but we do seek your instruction to give you an opportunity to decide the order in case you have a preference. 

If “order of inventors” is a non-issue for you, then we will simply choose one for you. 


Craige Thompson, JD, EE, PE, Patent Attorney

Craige Thompson JD, EE, PE Patent Attorney Author of Amazon #1 Best seller, Patent Offense

Craige Thompson he has nailed the art and science of patent prosecution and defense!

In my time working and collaborating with Craige, I have found that he has nailed the art and science of patent prosecution and defense. His consciously defined best practices and unique insights truly set him apart – and, he communicates these in such a way that his clients can appreciate the value of his advice and strategies. Last but not least, he is one of the most decent people you will ever meet. In my estimation, Craige is unequivocally the smart choice when it comes to protecting products and inventions with quality patents – those that will stand up in court. Get to know him sooner rather than later.