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U.S. Patent Rights: Think Twice Before Disclosing Your Invention

By Shana K. Cyr and James M. Eaton, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP |

These cautionary tales provide insight that can lead to best practices for scientists who are seeking patents for their inventions Publish or perish is a maxim in the scientific community, where scientists are encouraged to share their work quickly and often. Scientists spend considerable time and effort seeking grants, submitting abstracts to conferences and scientific journals, and presenting and publishing their research. They may also collaborate with other scientists, discuss their work with investors, or offer their products for sale. Although each of these activities may lead to prominence or even profits, scientists who act too soon or share too much create a risk of forfeiting their own U.S. patent rights (Figure 1). Cautionary tales of inventors who have risked their own U.S. patent rights provide valuable insight for scientists in developing their own best practices. Figure 1. Engineers and scientists who seek patents for their inventions need to understand what precautions to take in order to secure their intellectual property[/caption] Grant applications Publicly available information in a grant application may present a possible problem for U.S. patent rights. Although most grant applications today are submitted and…
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