The patent holder is entitled to make and market the invention and to exclude others from doing so. Because the patent is a species of property, it may be transferred. The inventor may assign part or all of his interest in the patent or keep the property interest and license others to manufacture or use the invention in return for payments known as royalties. The license may be exclusive with one licensee, or the inventor may license many to exploit the invention. One important limitation on the inventor’s right to the patent interest is the so-called shop right. This is a right created by state courts on equitable grounds giving employers a nonexclusive royalty-free license to use any invention made by an employee on company time and with company materials. The shop right comes into play only when a company has no express or implied understanding with its employees. Most corporate laboratories have contractual agreements with employees about who owns the invention and what royalties will be paid.
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