Who owns the IP for an invention conceived or reduced to practice with federal funds?

Supreme Court answers the question.

Who owns the IP for an invention conceived or reduced to practice with federal funds?
Supreme Court answers the question
.  [sort of . . .]

Sort of . . .
(a) Since 1790, patent law has operated on the premise that rights in an invention belong to the inventor. See, e.g., Gayler v. Wilder, 10 How. 477, 493. In most cases, a patent may be issued only to an applying inventor, or–because an inventor’s interest in his invention is assignable in law by an instrument in writing–an inventor’s assignee. See United States v. Dubilier Condenser Corp., 289 U. S. 178, 187. Absent an agreement to the contrary, an employer does not have rights in an invention “which is the original conception of the employee alone,” id., at 189; an inventor must expressly grant those rights to his employer, see id., at 187. Pp. 6-8.
(b) Stanford and amicus United States contend that, when an invention is conceived or first reduced to practice with the support of federal funds, the Bayh-Dole Act vests title to those inventions in the inventor’s employer–the federal contractor. Congress has in the past divested inventors of their rights in inventions by providing unambiguously that inventions created pursuant to certain specified federal contracts become the Government’s property. Such unambiguous language is notably absent from the Bayh-Dole Act. Instead, the Act provides that contractors may “elect to retain title to any subject invention,” 202(a), defining a “subject invention” as “any invention of the contractor conceived or first actually reduced to practice in the performance of work under a funding agreement,” 201(e). [SNIP]
Held: The Bayh-Dole Act does not automatically vest title to federally
funded inventions in federal contractors or authorize contractors to
unilaterally take title to such inventions. Pp. 6-15.

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