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Understanding the ins and outs of patent law is especially important for engineers.

Every schematic, each piece of software code, and every drawing, diagram, and prototype has intellectual property rights attached upon creation according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

These rights are the legal essence of an engineer’s output, for if an actual disk or prototype is lost, another can always be had. But if the legal rights are lost, the disk or prototype may be worthless — even if securely in hand.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a secret that engineers, while highly educated in technology, have little experience in the ways of patent law.

Experts in this area advise engineers to at least have a basic knowledge about intellectual property law before they complete their inventions and creations, so as to avoid taking steps that would cause the loss of all or mostly all intellectual property rights before they have the opportunity to reap the rewards of their creative work.

For example, engineers need to know this:

Do not publicly disclose your patentable invention to anyone outside your development team until a patent application covering your invention has been filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, or your respective home Patent Office. In the United States, in broad terms, an inventor has one year following the public disclosure of an invention to file a patent application.

It’s equally important to understand that even though you obtain a patent on your invention, products incorporating your invention may still infringe the patent rights of someone else. Therefore, it’s best to have an infringement search conducted before you bring your new, and patentable, product to market.

Additionally, engineers, when beginning new employment, should carefully read and fully understand the agreements they sign, particularly the language regarding ownership of inventions made before employment, and those inventions made during employment.

Also engineers should understand any language that may affect their ability to work for a competitor if and when their new employment terminates.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Patent Law for Engineers Training, a 2-day course that covers what you need to know about intellectual property law in the field of engineering.

Patent law for engineers training covers patent applications, research and prosecution, along with the law of breach and computer software and hardware applications, protected by copyright and hardware respectively. 

You will also learn about other aspects of patents and ideas patented, as well as devices, processes, mixtures, production, materials, and methods of performing business and research. 

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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