Ten Tips on Patents

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Every category and type of document has characteristics that are different from other types of documents. Patents are no exception. In fact, I find more interesting facts associated with patents than with any other category of documents. Every country has different rules concerning its patents. Every library which maintains a collection of patents has different guidelines for access and availability. The list is endless.

The facts that follow are a few common observations about U.S. and Japanese patents. Hopefully, the information will shed some light on some of the many mysteries about patents. 1. U.S. patents are of three types: * Utility Patents are patents issued to cover a new product, invention, or technology. These patents are numbered as U.S. Patent (US) usually followed by a 6-digit number. * Design Patents are patents issued to cover products that have been redesigned or reconstructed such as chairs or cars. Design patents are numbered as U.S. Design Patent (USD or US DES) followed by a 6-digit number. * Plant Patents are patents issued to cover new breeds of plants. They are indicated by Plant Patent plus a 4-digit number. 2. The U.S. National Technical Information Service (NTIS) publishes information about government-owned inventions available for license which may not yet have full U.S. patent status. 3. U.S. patent applications, with the exception of those assigned to the U.S. government, are secret until published. The same patent may have been filed as a European patent application before publication in the United States. European patent applications are not secret and are usually available before the U.S. counterpart patent is issued. 4. For each granted U.S. patent, a complete file wrapper may be obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. File wrappers contain all the paper work and cited art that pertained to the issuing of the patent. 5. International Technology Disclosures (ITD) serve to provide maximum protection when used in lieu of filing a patent application. Publishing an invention in ITD provides a more prompt way of initially securing intellectual property than the process of filing a patent application. …


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