Ownership of inventions
Although anybody can apply to patent an invention, the
patent can only be validly granted to the owner of the invention.
The owner of the invention is primarily the inventor,
but ownership can pass to somebody else as a result of an enforceable
agreement made with the inventor before the invention was made, by law, or
as a result of an assignment made by the inventor after the invention was
In the United Kingdom, most terms in contracts of
employment regarding ownership of inventions are unenforceable. Instead,
there are specific provisions in British law as to whether an
employee-inventor or their employer owns an invention.
A patent or a patent application can be assigned,
licensed, or even mortgaged, in much the same way as a house can be sold,
rented out or mortgaged.