If two people both contributed to the subject matter of the invention, they are considered to be joint inventors. The patent, if issued, will be in both their names. This is true even if they jointly contributed only to one of many claims. However, if one person conceives of an idea which led to the invention, and the other merely follows instructions to reduce the invention to practice, the one who conceives of the invention is the sole inventor.

Often, an inventor working for a company has an idea for a new invention, and the company then finances the research, development, and patent application. In this case, the application is filed and the patent issued in the inventor’s name. Companies often own the invention, however, through the inventor’s Employment Agreement which may contain an obligation to assign clause.

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