What is an Assignment?

The owner of most types of property, including intellectual property (IP), can be changed by executing an assignment.  After establishing ownership of IP, the owner or owners may assign the ownership interest over to whomever the owner chooses. In the case of patents, copyrights, and trademarks, an assignment means a transfer by a party of all or part of its right, title and interest in a patent, patent application, registered mark, common law mark, a mark for which an application to register has been filed, registered copyright, or copyrighted material.  Basically, an assignment document transfers to someone who is not currently in possession all or part of the rights that the patent, trademark, or copyright grants. If there are joint owners of the IP, then the joint owner can only assign the portion of the IP that they own. Generally, if one works for a technology company or in a research and development lab it is likely that the individual has already executed an assignment that assigns IP rights for any and all work developed for the employer to the employer.