Understanding Current vs. Original Assignee in Patents

Patents are rights which can be transferred from one entity to another. Patents ownership change hands through acquisition of entire companies or through the purchase of individual patents. Therefore, the current assignee of a particular patent may not be the same as it appears on the cover page of the published patent document i.e. Original Assignee.  Current Assignee

Understanding Current vs. Original Assignee in Patents

Just to clarify the “Original Assignee” of a patent is the one who owns the rights of the patent at the time of filing, or latest by the time the patent is granted and published. It may be understood that the Original Assignee may be different than the inventors, as in many cases where the Assignee is usually the employer under which the inventor may have come up with the inventive idea of the patent. When an application is published or a patent is granted there is often (but not always) an assignee name printed on the document.  This is the Original Assignee, which is also often called the “Applicant”.

For a patent to have a different “Current Assignee” than originally printed on the patent, two conditions must be met.

  • The patent rights must have been sold to a new party, usually by some civil contract;
  • Such patent rights transaction must be registered with the relevant patent office.

However, generally, there is no mandatory requirement to register the transfer of patent rights to the new party. Many times, such patent transaction takes place without proper registration with the patent office. Sometimes acquisition takes place in close doors and at times even the details of the parties involved is not public. Thus the records with the patent office may not be considered completely reliable or always updated, when it comes to about the Assignee information. In such case your best bet would be to get details about the company/business/organization which held the original rights to the patent and follow the trails of any acquisitions through news or business databases.  Current Assignee

Some of the resources to find the Assignee information are listed below:

  • US Patent Assignment database ( http://assignment.uspto.gov/ )
  • US Public Pair ( http://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair )
  • European Patent Register ( https://register.epo.org/regviewer )

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