Makerspaces, Coworking Spaces, Startup Incubators, and Startup Accelerators

Inventorship is an important issue any time that people collaborate.

The problems become immense if there are no agreements in place.  IP.Education is here to solve that problem.

Bouncing ideas off another person is one of the best ways to hone and polish an idea.  Someone else’s viewpoint can challenge your own, forcing you to see a problem in a different way.  Someone else may also have a great idea or contribution to your concept, helping you advance your business idea.

Sharing ideas has always existed in less formal settings, but many different types of collaborative work environments have sprung up in the last couple decades.  These include makerspaces, startup accelerators and incubators, coworking spaces, and many others.  These kind of settings are specifically designed to have insightful, inventive people bump into each other and – hopefully – develop something that is much better than if the inventors toiled away in their solitary garages.

Collaboration raises an uncomfortable and often overlooked problem: who is an inventor and, more importantly, who owns the invention once it is created?

When the lightbulb goes off and an invention is created, it cannot be undone.

But what happens when Bob is helping Jim at a makerspace?  Jim is struggling with getting his project to work, and Bob suggests an elegant solution that makes all the pieces come into place.  Bob sketches out a solution, and the two of them brainstorm about how to build it.  Jim continues to work on the project, eventually files a patent, and launches a company.

Should Bob be listed as an inventor on Jim’s patent?  Yes, Bob should be listed as an inventor.  Does this give Bob ownership in Jim’s company for just an afternoon’s worth of work?  Technically, no, but Bob has ownership of the patent, which is just as good.

In this scenario, both Jim and Bob are penalized for collaborating.

Think this is an isolated problem?  Many big companies have made headlines for inventorship issues, including Square and Snapchat.  These are long, nasty, emotionally-charged disputes that drag on the company.

How IP.Education Solves This Problem

IP.Education has an equitable solution for these types of interactions.  The goal is to both incentivize collaboration and to ensure that strong businesses can be birthed from these interactions.

The solution is a simple agreement to transfer ownership of a patent to the person who files the patent for a reasonable amount of money.  Some groups might choose $100, while others might agree on a larger amount, maybe $500 or $1000.  This agreement will be in place between all members of the group and almost all collaborations will be collegial, neighborly understandings between good intentioned people.

However, if there is a dispute, IP.Education will provide two levels of dispute resolution.  The goal is to settle ownership and inventor-related issues quickly and completely, so that a business can go forward without complicated baggage.

The first step of resolution will be for IP.Education to hire a local patent attorney to investigate and recommend a resolution about who should be named as an inventor and who should own the patent.

If the first step does not settle the dispute, IP.Education will direct the parties to a mediator who will do binding arbitration.  The mediator’s ruling will be final so that the patentee can go forward without sticky inventorship and ownership issues hanging over their heads.

How to apply for IP.Education’s intellectual property management program:

Send an email request to

Please include the full legal name and address of your organization, along with whether or not your organization is for-profit or non-profit.  We will set up a time for us to talk on the phone.