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I have been working on an invention for my company for the last few months and it has just been completed. I came up with the idea entirely on my own but I asked a more senior member of the company if it was done before (it wasn't) and since then, have been consulting with them on my calculations to quantify the impact. More specifically, I would do all the calculations and research, then would send them the document for submission so that they could browse it and give critique. Essentially they were a reviewer and consultant to strengthen my invention claim. Nonetheless, they were very helpful and I appreciate their support.

There's an internal system that allows me to submit the invention document to our company's law dept and on the list of inventors to name, I of course have the option to include them. However, since it is entirely digital, when I put their name down, it automates it so that it gives equal credit to them as me. This is not accurate in terms of the amount of work put in, but I assume this is an internal item and has nothing to do with when the actual patent is filed. I assume all that matters is that I am listed as the lead. However, would be nice to get an opinions from others if I should include the consultant as an inventor.

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The operative question is whether there is at least one claim which is there due to the contribution of the consultant. If so, the consultant should be listed as an inventor. If the consultant is only reviewing calculations and such then they should not be listed as they didn't make a conceptual contribution to the patent.

All of my patents have been while working in a company. In all cases, the decision on whether or not to include someone as an inventor is make by the patent attorney, not the contributors. Until the claims are drafted they can't make that determination.

Lastly, unlike in technical papers, where being the first author signifies who contributed the most for patents it is not a big deal. Even if one inventor might be responsible for 20 claims and a second inventor is responsible for only one, they both need to be listed. Some people like making the primary inventor listed first but that is all you can do.

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  • Good answer. In the U.S. the criteria to be an inventor is technically those who make a "conceptual" contribution, not an "inventive" contribution - to one or more claims.
    – George White
    Feb 16, 2023 at 23:52
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    @GeorgeWhite Thanks for the comment, I'll edit the answer.
    – Eric S
    Feb 17, 2023 at 0:59
  • Thank you for the response. This was my first invention and up to this point, I was only going off of my experience from grad school when it came to publications just as you were referring to. They did only review calculations and at one point though did explain how my calculations justify my idea because I thought otherwise. So I don't think I would've even submitted it without their acknowledgement. So I added their name as a secondary anyway.
    – Richard
    Feb 17, 2023 at 6:12
  • My only real concern was that I wouldn't get the deserved credit since I did come up with the idea and did all the heavy lifting in terms of calculations and research. But I also wanted to acknowledge their support and again going off of my experience with publishing in academia, this was the only way I could see how it could be done. Perhaps it was too much though from what I am understanding from your answer.
    – Richard
    Feb 17, 2023 at 6:14
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    @Richard You can acknowledge your colleague’s contributions by thanking them personally and/or publicly. You just don’t add them as an inventor if they didn’t invent something relevant to your patent application.
    – Eric S
    Feb 17, 2023 at 17:45

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