Questions and Answers on Patent Law for Academic Research Scientists

Questions and Answers
on Patent Law for Academic Research Scientists

by Edward R. Gates, E. Robin Plumer, Michael J. Twomey

What is a patent?

A patent is both a disclosure of an invention to the public and an exclusive right to the invention for a term of years.In essence, the government grants the inventor exclusive rights to the invention in exchange for a full disclosure of the very best way known to the inventor of making and using the invention.When the term of the patent expires, the inventor’s exclusive rights are lost but the disclosure remains forever with the public.

The patent right is specified in Article I of the U.S.Constitution, and its purpose is to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”Thomas Jefferson (the first “Commissioner of Patents”) and the other founders believed that society is best served when creative minds are provided incentive to invent, provided the incentive does not stifle the creative efforts of others.For over two hundred years, the United States patent system has evolved and adapted to maintain this balance. More…