Ownership and inventorship with regard to a patent are totally different issues.
Inventorship requires that a person conceive of the subject matter at issue. A
mere idea, which is not patentable, becomes conception when it develops into a
definite and permanent concept of the operative invention. This requires the idea
to be so clearly defined that one of ordinary skill in the relevant art would be able
to reduce it to practice without extensive research or experimentation. Conception
must include every feature of the claimed invention. As such, to be an inventor
requires a person to contribute to the definite and permanent idea of the complete
and operative invention.
For a patent application, the applicant must be the inventor or one of several
inventors. The invention cannot have derived from a person other than the
applicant(s). Joint inventors are two or more individuals who collaborate and each
contribute to the formation or conception of the invention. Co-inventorship
requires at least some role in the final conception (as set forth above) of what is
sought to be patented. A person who merely suggests an idea of a result to be
accomplished, rather than the means of accomplishing it, is not a joint inventor.
Likewise, a person who merely follows the instructions of another in performing
experiments or constructing a prototype is not a co-inventor.