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Retaining rights and increasing the impact of research
Last Updated: Oct 23, 2014 URL: http://libguides.lib.siu.edu/copyright Print Guide RSS Updates

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Patents

What is a Patent?

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available.

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.

There are three types of patents:

1) Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;

2) Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and

3) Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

History

  • The Constitution of the United States gives Congress the power to enact laws relating to patents, in Article I, section 8, which reads “Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” Under this power Congress has from time to time enacted various laws relating to patents. The first patent law was enacted in 1790.
  • 1790 The first patent law was enacted.
  • July 31, 1790 – 1st Patent: Samuel Hopkins patents potash, cost $4.00.
  • 1790: 3 patents were awarded.
  • 1802 USPTO was created.
  • The patent laws underwent a general revision which was enacted July 19, 1952, and which came into effect January 1, 1953.
  • The patent law is codified in Title 35, United States Code. Additionally, on November 29, 1999, Congress enacted the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA), which further revised the patent laws. See Public Law 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501 (1999).
  • 2008 new patent legislation debate

What Can Be Patented

  • Invention or discovery of any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement.
  • The subject matter must be “useful.” The term “useful” in this connection refers to the condition that the subject matter has a useful purpose and also includes operativeness, that is, a machine which will not operate to perform the intended purpose would not be called useful, and therefore would not be granted a patent.

What cannot be patented

  • the laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable subject matter.
  • The mere idea or suggestion of the new machine
  • The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 excludes the patenting of inventions useful solely in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon. See 42 U.S.C. 2181(a).

Patent Research

·         USPTO's Web-based Searchable Patent Database

Display of text and images for all U.S. patents from 1790 to the present.  All published U.S. patent applications from 2001 to the present.  Patents from 1976 to the present and all applications are fully text-searchable.

  • European Patent Office (Includes searchable bibliographic information for U.S. patents from 1920 to present.)

www.european-patent-office.org/index.htm/

  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office   cipo.gc.ca/

USPTO Publications (available on USPTO web pages)

USPTO Patent Search Tools in Order of Use (available on USPTO web pages)

SIU Patent Policies

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