Intellectual Property "Patents"
A patent is a negative property right, granted by a government, that gives the owner the exclusive right to keep others from making, using, or selling a product that infringes upon any claim contained in the patent. Like property, patents can be sold, assigned, or licensed. Commercialization may be accomplished by the owner, through a start-up company, or via license agreement to an external party.
Under United States standards of patentability, all patent applications are examined for novelty, utility, and non-obviousness. The applicant, usually through a patent attorney or agent, must establish these elements to the satisfaction of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before the patent is allowed.
U.S. utility patents are granted for a period of 20 years from the date of application. The life of certain drug patents may be extended under limited conditions. Design patents are issued for a term of 14 years from the date of issue. The duration of foreign patents varies widely from country to country.
Patents and publications are closely related, both represent means of disseminating the results of research. A patent, however, is a specialized form of publication which describes an invention to the world at large in return for a limited period during which others can be excluded from using the patented information. Care must be taken against premature disclosure of an invention (by publication in a scientific or technical journal or through public use), this can compromise the ability to obtain a patent.
Patent laws set forth classes of inventions eligible for patenting. Statutes provide that any inventor who "invents or discovers a new or useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition-of-matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefore, subject to the conditions and requirements of the law".
The following cannot be patented in the United States:
- Plans of action
- Discoveries of laws of nature or scientific principles
- Things immoral or injurious to health and the good of society
Patent rights, under sponsored research agreements, are generally negotiated before the agreement takes effect. It is important that these agreements reserve patent rights for the University. Inventions arising from federally sponsored research are governed by 35 U.S.C. §200-212,which allows universities to retain rights to these inventions while reserving certain rights for the government. These laws are issued as 37 Code of Federal Regulations ChapterIV, Part 401. MU’s intellectual property policies can be found in the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri, Section 100.20.
Last Updated: February 5, 2019