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I'm a little unsure what to make of the situation I'm in and hoping someone here can help a bit. I've been working with a startup for the past 18 months to develop a product that we've now brought to market, but that isn't selling very well.

I was recently contacted by the CTO asking me to sign a form assigning a patent that he and I are the inventor of for the amount of $20. Based on the assignment form I have a vague idea of what the patent is covering but I had no involvement in the actual filing of the patent, just heard the occasional comment that they were applying for a patent.

I don't have a contract in place with the company, and the work I did for them was in exchange for an equity stake as well as a small monthly payment (~10% of my normal rates) to help cover costs of materials and equipment.

Overall I'm wondering if I should agree to signing this as is, make amendments, or not agree all together.

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  • Personally I agree with George White that you should agree to assign since you have been paid in a way you agreed to. That said, I'd be hesitant to be named as an inventor on a patent application without the opportunity to review the application. You should be paid your usually fees for that review.
    – Eric S
    Jul 17 '20 at 22:33
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If you were an employee, even without an agreement, the work you did for the company as part of your job belongs to the company. As a contractor, depending on your state, it might be different.

It seems to me that if you were compensated for your work and your conceptual contribution to the invention was part of that work, I think you have already been paid for your contribution to the invention.

Separately, an application includes a declaration signed by the inventors, each swearing that they are a true inventor to what is claimed. To truthfully swear to that requires you to see and understand the application, which don't really need to do to assign it.

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  • Thanks for the perspective; that's helpful.
    – Otus
    Jul 16 '20 at 3:26

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