QUESTION: In case the invention has been assigned, can applicant and assignee be different?
No, it will be the same. Understand that there can be only one person who can make an application that is the applicant. The applicant can be a true and first inventor, by which I mean the inventor also includes the plural inventors or if the true and first inventors have assigned it, it’s very easy to understand this. In a startup, the company has not even been incorporated, nothing has been done, then in such cases assume that 3 or 4 friends are working together and come up with an invention, because there is no legal entity, as it’s the early days of the startup, they file it in their own name and then they are regarded as the true and first inventor and then they would file the application and that is the first category of persons that we had mentioned.
Now assume that these 4 people are working for a well-established company. They are not in a part of a startup, they are all employees of a well-established company. They come up with the same invention, work together and come up with the same invention, now the terms of employment will require them to assign it to the company. The terms of employment will say that whatever you invent while working with us using our resources will be treated as the company’s property. So there will be an assignment form the company will procure from them and the company will file as the assignee. So the applicant is the person who files the application, in the case of a startup which has not been incorporated it will be the true and first inventors themselves. In the case the true and first inventors belong to an established company, an incorporated company, and there is an arrangement that whatever they invent will belong to the company then the company becomes the assignee.
The easiest way to understand this is, the names of the inventor is different from the name of the applicant then you can assume that there has been an assignment. If you look at the bibliographical details of a patent application there is a column which mentions the names of the inventors and there is a column which mentions the names of the applicant, if the names are different in these 2 columns then you can assume that there has been an assignment.