Spouses of Inventors as Patent Co-Owners


In many cases, determining separate property and community property after a Pasadena divorce is not difficult. Separate property refers to items purchased or acquired before the marriage and community property refers to items purchased or acquired during the marriage, with the exception of gifts and inheritances. However, in a divorce that involves an inventor with a patent, there is some debate as to whether or not the spouse of the inventor has a legal interest in the patent.

Federal law states that inventions initially belong only to their creator. Patents must be applied for in the name of the inventor, even if the invention was created as part of an agreement with the inventor’s employer. Unless the inventor later assigns his or her employer rights to the patent, the invention belongs to the inventor only.

Patents are considered personal property under state law. Federal law does not prevent a court from viewing patents as divisible property during a divorce settlement. However, there is less agreement as to the status of intellectual property that results in a patent. For example, some spouses have been granted interest in a patent after a divorce if the research or the key idea for the invention covered by the patent occurred during the marriage. During a divorce, this possible interest in a patent should not be overlooked by any spouse of an inventor.

If you are the spouse of an inventor with a patent, you must list the patent as community property when filing for divorce if you believe you are entitled to an interest in the patent. It is also highly recommended that you consult an experienced attorney for assistance with your settlement. A patent can often be a valuable asset, and care must be taken to preserve your interest in profits generated from the patent.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us atinfo@PasadenaLawOffice.com if you are in need of legal representation during your divorce. Our Pasadena family law attorneys will work to help ensure that you receive a favorable settlement as quickly as possible.