If a person or a group of people have invented an item or process, they can legally patent the invention or the new method. However, sometimes multiple individuals may fight for the same patent. In most cases, the law will look at who filed for the patent first.
If the applicant is the inventor, then most often the law will award the patent to this individual or group. If the applicant is not the inventor, then there can be severe penalties for submission of the document. In some cases, if the inventor was also a collaborator, an investigation may be opened to clarify patent ownership.
Patents will only offer some years for sole reproduction, making it essential for only one person or group to use the patent. However new changes in the law have awarded some patents to the true inventor rather than the first applicant.
The US Patent and Trademark Office starts its investigation when an individual or group files their patent. Firstly, they will determine if this individual or group was the first to file this new item or process. The process involves going through the database of patent creation and consideration. After the item or process is classified as new, the patent type must match the request. After this has been determined, the Office determines if the applicant is the true and original inventor. The process is made more complicated when there are multiple persons requesting for the same patent.