Can I split patent ownership with my cofounder in the following cases:

  1. A patent owned by me
  2. A new patent to be applied

2 Answers 2



35 USC § 261 provides:

... patents shall have the attributes of personal property. ... Applications for patent, patents, or any interest therein, shall be assignable in law by an instrument in writing.

Thus patents and patent applications can be owned, bought and sold essentially like any other kind of personal property, and so ownership can be split any way you want. The only real catch is that ownership should be recorded at the USPTO (which isn't necessary for other kinds of personal property).

  • Actually making sure the ownership is recorded correctly is a mayor catch as a patent infringement lawsuit might be rejected if there was a mistake in the recordings and the person suing is not officially and correctly entitled to the rights. That can be corrected afterwards, but this scenario costs a lot of money.
    – DonQuiKong
    Dec 21, 2016 at 7:07

Yes it's done all the time. E.g., Fred W. McLafferty, and Michael A. Baldwin, Us Patent #3997298, "Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry system and method" Assigned to (Cornell Research Foundation, Inc., USA). 1976

Fred W. McLafferty, Robert H. Hertel, and Robert D. Villwock, De Patent #2521344, "Mass spectrometer system for rapid, automatic, specific identification and quantitative determination of compounds" Assigned to (Universal Monitor Corp., USA). 1976

  • Ownership and inventorship are not necessarily the same. Ownership can be split on existing patents, but accrediting the cofounder with inventorship on an existing patent he didn't hep with would afaik not be possible.
    – DonQuiKong
    Dec 20, 2016 at 17:12
  • I think the answer "yes" is correct, but I don't see how the two cited patents are clarifying. I'm not sure this partial answer is confusing inventorship and ownership as DonQuiKong is suggesting, but it isn't clarifying it either.
    – Eric S
    Feb 8, 2017 at 19:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .