A friend and I achieved a patent and now we are about to form a company for its exploitation. Is it better to keep the patent in our name or should we transfer it to the firm? And in this second case what should we do?

The choice of the transferral or not of the patent depends mainly on the financial and commercial evaluation rather than the juridical one, but, usually, who forms a company to exploit a patent, must at least be able to use it in some way, otherwise there is no point. To allow the company to be able to make decisions on the patent, whether it wants to transfer it to others or to produce it directly, the authorisation of the inventors is still needed. This consent can be given in two different ways. Firstly, it is possible to license the patent to the company, or rather “lease” it, therefore leaving the company full decisions powers and reserving the inventors a percentage on the profits that will come from its use. In this case it is sufficient, once formed the company, to make a leasing agreement between the inventors and the firm, setting the payments, which can also be forfeit, of an annual fixed amount. The other solution, used in most cases, is that the patent is surrendered to the newly formed company, meaning it is sold and all rights are then transferred from the inventors, who were the original owners, to the company. Simply making a contract of transferral once the company has been constituted can do this. In practice as soon as the firm has been formed, the original owners put the patent into the capital assets as a substitution of capital money: in fact a financial value will be given to the patent, this could either be freely assessed or on the basis of a surveyor’s estimate. The advantage and limitation to this second solution is that the original owners/inventors are deprived of any rights on the patent once and for all; consequently they have no more responsibilities.