Lecture_02_10 - Understanding Patents Improves Product...

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Understanding Patents Improves Product Designs ME 553 Product and Process Design © 2009 John McNett, Printed 2009
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The Essence of Patents Patents grant the right either to exclude others or to obtain payment from others using an invention. Patents do not provide any inherent right of use for either the patent owner or his licensees.
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Patent A patent is the government granted right that keeps a person from freely making, using, selling, offering for sale, importing, or exporting an invention of another.
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Three types of Patents Utility patents only address functional aspects of inventions. Examples would be Edison's light bulb and the Wright brother's airplane. Most patents are utility patents. Design patents only address non-functional aspects of inventions that are visible. An example could be a novel aesthetic shape of a television remote control. Plant patents only protect asexually reproduced non-tuber plants. An example would be a novel rose or apple tree.
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Three Questions 1. What do I do if I have an invention? 1. What do I do if others have patents that might cover what I want to do? 1. Can my product designs be improved in an innovative way if I better understand how to define inventions?
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What do I do if I have an invention? A thorough search of prior art is often the first thing to do, and is usually critical to the process. Prior art is the term used to describe all things people have done before that are entitled to be used as evidence against a claim of novelty or patentability of a later invention.
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What do I do if I have an invention? A thorough search is usually necessary to provide a basis upon which to properly define the invention in a patent application so that the patent’s coverage is optimized. Once the patent’s coverage is understood, one can compare it to competitive alternatives and consider whether there would be a big enough market for a long enough time to warrant the cost of the patent process.
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U.S. Patent Searching Resources http://www.patft.uspto.gov/ http://www.google.com/patents http://www.delphion.com/ Both the uspto site and Google are free sources of searchable full text patents from about 1972 to the present. From the patent number, full text PDF’s of entire patents can be easily obtained using http://www.pat2pdf.org/
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Other Searching Resources Use of www.google.com for an initial screening is often very helpful. If interesting websites are located using Google, the dating of the website content to determine if it is prior art can often be accomplished using the Wayback Machine found at www.archive.org .
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Obtaining patents – U.S. Costs For U.S. rights, application might cost $10,000, additional costs and fees throughout the 20 year term of the patent might add another $15,000. Option to file provisional patent application at lower cost, but must file regular application within one year.
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