Takeaway: It is important to include all inventors that contributed to an invention in a patent application, even if the final claimed invention has been modified since the contribution occurred.

Recently, in the case of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Inc. v. Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. et al., a Massachusetts District Court judge ordered that two scientists, Dr. Gordon Freeman and Dr. Clive Wood, be added as inventors to six patents. These patents resulted from the work of Dr. Tasuku Honjo, who was jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. James P. Allison for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.

The court found that the scientists’ collaborations with Dr. Honjo constituted significant contributions to the conception of claims in each of the patents. Relying on guidance from the Federal Circuit, the judge found that even though all contributors may not have “[had] their own contemporaneous picture of the final claimed invention,” they still qualify as joint inventors.