Joshua Matt

Document Type



Congress's 1984 amendments to 35 U.S.C. 116 lowered the bar for establishing joint inventorship of a patent but did not clarify the uncertainty inherent in joint inventorship law. The crux of this uncertainty is the ability of a person to become a joint inventor because of a minor contribution to an invention and, thus, to obtain ownership rights commensurate with those of more significant contributors. This circumstance obscures the respective rights of researchers, enables dubious legal arguments regarding those rights, mandates unnecessary legal involvement in the research process, and inhibits research collaboration. This Note reviews current joint inventorship and joint ownership law and evaluates potential reforms. The Note concludes that a judicial "matrix approach" to joint inventorship, incorporating clear rules adapted to specific contextual concerns, would best achieve the policies and goals of patent law.