There are lots of ways that innovations come to fruition. Sometimes, there is one person who has a “eureka” moment; other times, it’s a team of people working on different elements that are brought together or one person with a great idea but who needs some help to develop it further or put it into practice. In certain cases, the same people work on the invention from start to finish, and in other cases, people come and go at different times in the innovation process. 

When it comes time to file a patent application to protect the invention, who should be listed as an inventor? 

A person’s role in developing the inventive concept is the key consideration when determining if someone is an inventor for the purposes of a patent application. An inventor is someone who contributed to the solution to the problem being solved by the invention described by the patent. The inventor must use their own ingenuity to solve the problem and not merely follow someone else’s directions. An inventor is not a person who engages in a purely mechanical act, like testing whether an invention will work or building a prototype they had no part in designing.   

In a recent case (Secure Energy v. Canada Energy Services, 2023 PC 906), evidence from a laboratory notebook was used to support inventorship, which underlines the importance of inventors keeping notes of their ideas, results and thoughts when trying to solve a particular problem. It also highlights the need for companies to have a process to locate and retain all notes relating to their inventions in case inventorship is challenged later.  

If you have any questions about inventorship, contact one of our team members, who can help you identify who should and should not be listed as an inventor.