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Who Should Be Named First On A Patent?

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Craige Thompson

Craige is an experienced engineer, accomplished patent attorney, and bestselling author.

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Does Order Of Inventors Matter?

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.

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.

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