If there are multiple applicants, decide which should be named first.
One seldom commented upon peculiarity of the Unitary patent regime is that where there are more than one applicants, it will be the nationality of the first-named applicant on the European Patent Register which will determine which law will apply to the Unitary patent as an object of property.
Therefore, because national laws in Europe differ on the ability of co-owners to assign their rights without the consent of the other, this previously inconsequential decision now has significance.
For instance, a joint owner in England cannot assign its rights in a patent without the consent of the other, while a joint owner in Germany can transfer its rights in a patent without the permission of the other joint owner.
Therefore, the apparently trivial decision as to whom to list first on a patent application can potentially have a major impact on the rights of joint owners.
Fortunately, some of these issues can be addressed contractually:
As applications filed now may ultimately become Unitary patents, this is another important issue which should be considered before filing an application or entering into a development agreement.
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