Patent Ownership Rights: Structuring Assignment and Employment Contracts

Key Provisions, Implications for Litigation, Recent Court Treatment

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will guide counsel on securing patent ownership to inventions created by employees or independent contractors. The panel will discuss essential provisions and strategies when structuring employee-assignment and contractor agreements. The presenters will discuss the implications for litigation when the assignment is not explicit and other pitfalls in structuring these agreements.


Most companies wrongly assume they automatically own the inventions created by their contractors and employees in the context of their employment. To avoid costly disputes, companies should be proactive in securing ownership of the invention.

In 2018, the Federal Circuit issued an important decision that addressed the pitfalls of a company's attempt to secure the ownership of patent rights through an employment agreement. In Advanced Video Technologies Inc. v. HTC Corp., the employment agreement in question contained three provisions related to ownership of patent rights.

The court held that none of the provisions were sufficient to confer ownership of the patent at issue. As a result, the company did not own the patent in question and consequently lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.

To avoid disputes over patent ownership, counsel to companies must secure rights for employee-created or contractor-created inventions, and ensure employees, consultants, and independent contractors sign confidentiality and invention assignment agreements.

Listen as our authoritative panel of patent attorneys discusses the patent ownership challenges facing companies that have inventor-employees or contractors. The presenters will discuss key provisions and strategies when structuring employee assignment agreements and contractor agreements. The panel will also discuss the implications for litigation when the assignment isn't specific and other pitfalls when structuring these agreements.



  1. Employment contracts with patent inventors or contractors
    1. Key provisions
    2. Strategies when structuring assignment agreements
    3. Potential pitfalls when structuring assignments
  2. Implications for patent prosecution and litigation and recent court treatment
  3. Best practices for ensuring ownership of employee-created inventions


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What key provisions should counsel include in employee assignment agreements?
  • What hurdles must counsel watch for to establish ownership of employee or contractor-created inventions?
  • What strategies should counsel employ to ensure ownership of employee or contractor-created inventions?


Hrivnak, Bret
Bret A. Hrivnak

Hahn Loeser & Parks

As a patent and trademark attorney, Mr. Hrivnak counsels clients on the protection of U.S. and international...  |  Read More

Kacedon, D. Brian
D. Brian Kacedon

Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner

Mr. Kacedon is a recognized authority in IP transactions having drafted and negotiated hundreds of agreements across...  |  Read More

Noonan, Kevin
Kevin E. Noonan, Ph.D.

McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff

Dr. Noonan's practice involves all aspects of patent prosecution, interferences, and litigation. He represents...  |  Read More

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