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An Engineer’s Guide to Patents

[+] Author Affiliations
William C. Rowland

Buchanan Ingersoll PC

Paper No. IMECE2005-80957, pp. 247-256; 10 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Engineering/Technology Management
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Engineering and Technology Management Group
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4230-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Most people learn about patents and other forms of intellectual property after it is too late. In other words, they try to obtain a patent after someone else has already stolen their invention. Or, they learn about a competitor’s patent after they have already infringed it. At this point in time, it is usually too late to get a patent, or untangling the infringement issue is very expensive. The purpose of this paper is to enable people to protect their invention before it can be stolen and to carefully monitor their competitors’ patents before they design and introduce a new product. Of course, working within the patent system is frequently complicated. However, it is almost always far easier and less expensive to take precautionary steps before problems arise than it is to resolve such problems after they have been created. The loss to an inventor for failing to protect an invention is difficult to calculate, and largely depends upon the success of the invention. Defending against a patent infringement lawsuit can easily run into the millions of dollars. Thus, one is advised to take certain precautions prior to designing, inventing, and/or introducing a new product. This paper includes three sections. The first section provides a basic primer, which is intended to provide the reader with enough background information concerning patents so that the remainder of the paper can be easily understood and applied. The second section of this paper explains what steps should be taken to protect one’s invention against copying by a competitor. The third section of this paper explains how to minimize the likelihood that a new product or method being introduced on the market will not infringe any competitor’s patents.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Patents



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