A patent is a monopoly that is given by the federal government to an inventor, granting her the exclusive right to use and develop her invention for a set period of time. A patent is also a type of property. Like other kinds of property, patents can be bought and sold. When you decide to sell your rights to an invention or a patent, you assign the rights to someone else. In such a transaction, you are the assignor; the receiving party is the assignee; and the transaction, as well as the document, is called an assignment. Assigning a patent can be advantageous to both an inventor and her assignee.
If your passion lies in the creative process of inventing rather than in the sales and marketing of products, assigning your patent can earn you money and keep you doing what you love. A typical assignment agreement will ensure that you are compensated for your ingenuity. Find a buyer for your invention, whether patented or not — the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2012 now allows an assignee to file for the patent — take a payment for your work, and get to work on your next invention.
Save Time and Money
Inventing is one thing; selling and marketing your invention to the public is something entirely different. You may not possess the skill set to do both, and trying to do so may end up costing you a lot of time and money. Assigning your invention or patent is one way to profit from your creativity and pass off to someone else the headaches, expense and other potential downsides of taking your product to market.
Retain Some Rights
If you are an inventor who works for a company or university, you are probably required to assign your inventions to your employer. However, if your research is funded by federal dollars, federal law permits you to share in any revenues that your employer may earn from licensing your invention. The Supreme Court, in fact, has held that a researcher who has only agreed to assign — rather than automatically assigns — his work to his employer, may retain even greater rights to profit from his invention.
Even after you have assigned your rights to a patent or invention, you will have the ability to protect the originality of your creation. If a third party steps in and challenges your patent's validity, you will be involved in the process of proving that your invention was unique and the patent is valid. This will help to make sure your interests and integrity as an inventor are protected and not left in the hands of your assignee.