I was recently approached by a client who had obtained a patent on a popular consumer item—only to see it being sold by a major retailer. The retailer booked more than $10 million in gross sales on this product, yet it had never obtained a license from my client or paid him a penny. So my job was to pursue the retailer for patent infringement. Easy, right? Not quite.

Looking at the patent, I noticed a name next to my client’s under the heading “Inventor.” When more than one person is identified as an “inventor,” this scenario is referred to as joint inventorship. A joint inventor is someone who makes a significant contribution to the conception of the invention, and who collaborates in a “concerted effort” toward the invention.

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