Friday, July 25, 2014

University Won't Patent My Invention

It looks like I may have made a scientific breakthrough with definite commercial applications. The thing is the university patent office (who would own the work) is reluctant to start paperwork on it as they say a few patents have already been filed using similar "terms" and applications. The thing is, those ideas have been proven NOT to actually work, whereas I now have good solid data proving my concept (not based on anyone else's work) is the one that will produce results. If someone files a patent for a process, but that process is flawed and does not work, does their patent still hold? It's like someone claiming they can build a faster-than-light spaceship, but never actually getting one to work. Then someone else succeeds, and the first party claims their original patent covers all faster-than-light work. We can imagine your frustration at having created something useful and then learning your superiors don't want to patent it. However, the decision seems to be out of your hands. We assume that as a university employee you signed some sort of pre-invention agreement under which you agree to assign all your university-related discoveries to the university. In that case, the university is free to do whatever it wants with your discovery (unless there's a provision in your agreement providing for reversion or buy-back rights).
Your faster than light scenario. In order to obtain a patent, the applicant must have a reason to believe that an invention will "work for its intended purpose." If that's not the case -- the spaceship can't travel faster than the speed of light -- then that can be the basis for attacking the patent's validity. (By the way, the USPTO does not test each patent's functionality.)