Inventorship Guidance for US Patent Applications
An inventor is a party who conceived (not just contributed to the reduction-to-practice) at least one claim to a patent. Generally, conception is "the complete performance of the mental part of the inventive act", and "the formation in the mind of the inventor of a definite and permanent idea of the complete and operative invention as it is thereafter to be applied in practice." An idea is usually not "definite and permanent" or "complete" where changes result from experimentation. In this case, other individuals who contribute to the formation of the "definite and permanent" idea are co-inventors.
An inventor is:
• A person who conceives the subject matter of at least one claim of the patent.
• Two or more persons who collaborate to produce the invention through aggregate efforts.
An inventor is not:
• Someone whose only contribution is reducing an invention to practice by exercising ordinary skill in the art.
• A technician or other person who simply performs experiments, assembles the invention, or only performs analytical tests.
• The supervisor or department manager of the person who conceived the invention.
• Someone whose only contribution is an obvious element to the invention.
• Someone whose only contribution is participation in consultations about the invention before or after conception of the invention.
• A person who only conceives of the result to be obtained, but not the idea of how to achieve it.
• A person who only discovers the problem (unless they contributes to the solution).
• A person who merely provides a suggestion or improvement but who does not work to fit the suggestion or improvement into the invention.