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LIB 3010: Patent Searching (Comfort): Patent Basics

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Patent of the Month

Systems and Methods for Predicting Traffic Signal Information

United States Patent 8972145

Devices that can transport biological materials are described. The devices incorporate capillary channeled fibers that can effectively transport living cells as well as other biological materials such as nutrients, growth factors, waste materials, etc.

What is a Patent

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal Agency charged with granting U.S. Patents and registering Federal Trademarks.

Types of Patents

Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matter, or any new useful improvement thereof. In general, the term of the patent is 20 years from the filing date.

Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Design patents remain in force for 14 years from the filing date.

Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plants. Term of the patent is 20 years from the filing date.

Types of Applications

Patent Application - Because there is not a simple form to complete to file a patent, each application is unique, and comprises a number of required forms

Provisional Patent Application - provides simplified filing with a lower initial cost and one full year to prepare to file a "regular" (non-provisional) patent application.  Successful filing establishes an official United States patent application filing date for the invention, permitting the inventor to use the term "patent pending" for one year. There is no such thing as a provisional patent - only a provisional patent application.


NEW - not known or used by others in this country or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country

USEFUL - must have a purpose, and it must operate to perform the intended purpose

UNOBVIOUS - must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before and not obvious to someone skilled in the art of the technology related to the invention

Patent Slides