I am in process of patenting a device and was wondering if the order of the inventor has any significance?

  • If there are 3 or 4 inventors, is there any special preference given to the first author? (Analogy is a and article in a review journal where the first author is the most important.)

  • If there are 2 people with similar contributions, can we write in acknowledgment section that both are considered co-first authors? I have done this in few journals before.

  • Again, is the ordering of the authors rigid and is it considered unethical to rearrange the order in our CV?

  • 1
    I think this question could mostly be better answered on academia.se but at least point 1 and 2 seem to be technically on topic
    – user18033
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:24
  • 1
    Well all these questions are with respect to patents only, I know what would be their answer if these were with respect to any other form of publishing such as Conference Proceedings or Journals
    – Rohit Raj
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:47
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    The thing is, you're asking how to treat patents in academia and the answer is "your concepts from papers don't apply to patents." So to really answer your question you would have to ask other academics how this is generally handled in academia - and that's off topic :-). Nevertheless I answered the patent part to clear that up.
    – user18033
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 14:30

3 Answers 3


As far as I know, patent law does not have any concept of first or second inventors. All inventors/owners need to come to an agreement by themselves about handling the patent (application), revenues, costs and communication with the patent office, but that's their own problem so to speak.

Basically, who's listed first doesn't matter.

A patent doesn't have an acknowledgement section, though you can put them in the description nevertheless.

How to (ethically) handle that in your cv is therefore not answereable from a patent perspective, only from an academic perspective.


So far as I know, DonQuiKong's answer is correct. For my patents, generally speaking, the lawyers usually listed the main inventor's name first, but it really doesn't matter. Certainly there is no importance like in academic publications. For CV purposes, I list all my patents whether or not I'm listed first. I just list the patent number and title, no names. I've never seen an acknowledgement section on a patent and would think it inappropriate. There are rare occasions where a patent gets known by the first listed inventor's name but that might be true for famous inventions or infamous inventions.


I think the key difference is that with a research paper or peer-review article, credit for the work is the tangible compensation. (All for the glory, if you will;)

With patents, we're in the business world, where listed inventors dictates who has rights to potential revenues derived from the intellectual property.

Patents rights can subsequently be re-assigned, for instance if the the structure of the venture or business model changes. This can even be done through standard contracts, in the case of licensing deals, without re-assigning the patent.

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