Can I collect royalties from a patent that a company in another country is producing that my grandfather invented? My grandfather J.F. Mcdowell invented & patented the fishing tool used on oil rigs to retrieve tools that get dropped in a borehole. I've researched the timeline and discovered that many foreign businesses are producing the exact tool my grandfather invented. When researching the companies and the patent filed within that country, J.F Mcdowell is listed as the inventor. Is my family entitled to royalties??

  • In which country or countries did he patent his invention? Do you have a reference to the patent? Oct 23, 2023 at 7:30
  • Europe, Canada, Australia Oct 23, 2023 at 11:51
  • Application # EP0460797A1 in Europe. Apparently his patent is used worldwide. Oct 23, 2023 at 11:53
  • EP0460797A1 European Application Oct 23, 2023 at 12:07
  • For some reason I can't see any other comments Oct 23, 2023 at 18:57

2 Answers 2


I see in the comments you list EP0460797A1. This application was granted as EP0460797B1 on 06/21/1995 and expired on 04/23/2011. So this patent is no longer in force and the invention described by it is freely available for anyone to use anywhere in the world. Even if it were in force, I doubt you would have any claim to royalties as the assignee is BetzDearborn Europe Inc. It is very common for inventions done while an employee to be owned (assigned) to the company and not the inventor.

Although you cite EP0460797A1, I rather doubt that this is invented by your grandfather. I found three US patents invented by John Frank McDowell including US1374510A, "Fishing Tool". These three patents were all in the US and all from the 1920s. Since patents of those eras expired 17 years from the grant date, they have all expired long ago. It is relatively common to have inventors with the same name so you have to be careful when searching.

In any case whichever John Frank McDowell we are citing, the patents are no longer in force and there is no potential for royalties.


You can look up the patent application status at Espacenet as well as other sites. It was filed in 1991 and therefore its 20 year term was up in 2011. The legal status page is here.

If it was not expired any royalties would be due to the owner of the patent not necessarily an inventor or heir.

  • 1
    As I point out in my answer, I doubt the application cited in comments are from the same JF McDowell as the OPs grandfather.
    – Eric S
    Oct 23, 2023 at 16:24
  • Yes J F Mcdowell of Shreveport Louisiana is my great grandfather. My dad's, mother's- father. He dis invent the 3 patents. Water controlled value. Safety switch for wells and the fishing tool for wells . Please google the MCDOWELL BALL BEARING FISHING TOOL, Shreveport La. You will find plans for a plant to be built here in shreveport. But he entrusted a banker named WADE Hampton. Which lead to back stabbing, throat cutting, infringement.. Oct 25, 2023 at 4:11
  • I do greatly appreciate your help and your research you undertook on J F Mcdowell. My grandmother would talk about her daddy inventing important devices. But he trusted someone that was a bad man. That was many moons ago . One night looking at old photo albums I ran across family events that made me think about my grandmother talking about her dad. So I did research and could not believe the devices he invented and that even today it's manufactured and used. Oct 25, 2023 at 4:19
  • @debbieantley I can only hope that my grandkids remember their granddad had some patents too.
    – Eric S
    Oct 27, 2023 at 18:33

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