I have a patent pending for something I invented while working for my current employer.

A provisional and final patent application has been filed with me listed as sole inventor, working through the intellectual property team at my current employer. Since I work for a corporation, the intellectual property will ultimately be claimed as belonging to the corporation.

Over a period of years, I have become increasingly unhappy at my job and would like to leave the company.

My question is, what happens to my pending patent if I leave the company before the final patent is granted (assuming it is granted...)? Will I still be able to (legally/ethically) claim that I have a patent on my resume?

I expect that the lawyers at my company would be able to answer this question, but I do not want to let them know that I am thinking of leaving.

3 Answers 3


Will I still be able to (legally/ethically) claim that I have a patent on my resume?

It's a bit ambiguous to use "have", as it might be interpreted to mean that you own the patent, which it sounds like you wouldn't. Typically, you'd phrase it as something like "I am the inventor / one of the inventors of <superfrob>, for which U.S. Patent <number> was granted".

It would not be unethical to have such a statement in your resume even if you left the company the next day after making the invention.

In the interim before the patent is granted, you can say something like "My work on <superfrobbing> for my previous employer resulted in techniques believed to be novel that are the subject of a pending patent application." However, all bets are off as to whether a prospective employer is going to appreciate the value of a pending patent, or whether such statements will seem excessively boastful.

  • 1
    Atsby's answer is correct. While the application is still pending, if it has already been published you can give the application number and potential employers will be able to look it up, just as they would a patented application.
    – Aldo
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 22:42

Most likely an assignment of IP would be in place. You can mention it in your resume as inventor, as you are the inventor. however in future you might have to sign forms if required.


There are a number of issues here. The first is what a "patent" actually is. The second relates to what "having" a patent means.

I've personally submitted something on the order of 80 US patent applications through various employers, with 40+ having been issued, and exactly 0 of them owned by me. What do I say? What do the people in my situation usually say?

A "patent" doesn't exist, as a patent, until the patent is actually issued. I've seen a number of people who list application or internal docket numbers on their resume and claim that they are "patents". When I've interviewed those people, or reviewed their resumes, I make sure they understand the difference between a granted patent, a patent application, and an employer's internal patent docket number. Most people seem to understand what that actually means and why they are important distinctions. Some don't. Such is life. Submitting invention disclosures is a Good Thing for ones career, so be sure to toot your own horn, just make sure you do so accurately.

I have yet to have anyone challenge me, or anyone else I know, who is listed on a granted patent, as "having" a patent. The term I use on my resume is "issued", as in "I've been issued more than 40 US patents", in part so it is clear that the patents have actually issued, because of people who list application and internal docket numbers on resumes. So, I see nothing wrong with saying "I have X issued patents and Y patents pending" where "X" is the number of granted patents and "Y" is the number of applications which have yet to be abandoned. If you have patents pending it is helpful to back that claim up with an application number which can be located on the US PTO website. When I write a resume I pick 4-6 patents and/or applications to list on my resume to show my innovation in some particular area.

What to do in your particular case?

1). Do not claim to have a patent if it has not yet been issued. Do claim to have a "patent pending" if the application has been published, but not yet abandoned.

2). Do list actual numbers -- granted patents and published applications -- on your resume, if you make statements about granted and pending patents. DO NOT describe un-published details as you may be violating a non-disclosure agreement with your employer.

3). After you have more than 4 or 5 patents and published applications, feel free to mention a number ("over 10 / 20 / 30 ...") and present a sampling of granted patents and published applications.

Best of luck in your future job search. Sorry to hear your current employer isn't more appreciative of your contributions.

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