In the context of patent rights, a mechanic is a person who helped an inventor make a prototype of an invention. A question often arises as to whether or not the mechanic is a joint inventor if he or she contributed to the invention. If the mechanic was a skilled tool and die person, a mold maker, or a code writer, for example, who merely followed the inventor’s instructions, then he or she is clearly not a co-inventor.

The same conclusion is reached if the mechanic solves one or more problems during the prototype-building process, but the solution to each problem is within the ordinary skill of all mechanics in that field. A different conclusion may be reached if the mechanic exercises extraordinary skill in solving a problem, especially if the invention could not have been completed without such skill. There are many gray areas between the two clear extremes. See Inventor/Mechanic Agreement.