“We’re going to need a signature, and it will need to be witnessed,”, sighed my friend, an attorney in Seattle. No problem, I should be back in May. Another sigh. “Corporate wants it by Friday, you’ll need to go to the embassy or something.”
When a patent is issued, there are two parties to the agreement, the Inventor and the Assignee, the owner. I’ve been the Inventor enough times to know the ropes: just like transferring ownership of the house, there is an official document that transfers assignment rights to the company.
And, just like any other deed of ownership, it needs to be witnessed by a Notary.
I’ll do my best. ‘Off to google.nl.
A Notary is a legal officer licensed to witness signatures, administer oaths, and authenticate documents. Each country has a system for validating and officiating documents, it is more casual in the US where lay-notaries are common than in Europe where lawyers are involved. If the document has to travel between countries, a further validation, an Apostille, is required: the US Embassy site has a good overview.
At my level, a Dutch Notaris was all that was needed, and a national index is available online. Simply enter your postcode and a map of local offices returns. Notariaat Versteeg was only a couple of blocks walk, so I printed my document and headed out.
The law offices were officious, to say the least. Wood panels, high ceilings, hushed voices. A woman came down to open the heavy doors and escort me to another set of doors, then into a small office where we we could discuss weighty legalities. I offered my two printed pages and my passport.
The notarized document was lovely, embossed with a heavy red wax seal, as official as anything I’d seen and totally medieval. It really elevated my A4 inkjet printer paper to a work of art.
Could I get the two pages attached, I asked, expecting a staple. “This will take a few minutes,” she smiled, and disappeared.
25 euros and I was on my way. The scanned .pdf doesn’t do justice to the beauty of my patent assignment, nor will I sully it with a trip to Amsterdam for further apostille. For the moment, it just sits out on my living room table where it can impress visitors. Totally satisfying.