It’s your D-day! After years and years of hard work, it gets paid off to get acknowledged for your invention – the invention you were working on is a success! You are incredibly eager to unwrap and reveal your ‘creation and innovation’ to the world.
And now, you gear up to write that cutting-edge research paper and publish it in a top-notch journal. But, are you ruining your opportunities of winning a patent by publishing it first? Are you jeopardizing your prospects of getting financial benefits of the invention arising from your cutting-edge research? Once the invention becomes public, your competitors may find ways to improve the invention and file a patent based on those amendments! So, how to deal with that?
How A New Invention Gets Acknowledged?
When scientist(s) research and invent something new, either an item or a process, s/he is advised to patent the invention and publish the research work later. Conversely, recent developments and court cases on patent ownership show that publishing a paper on the invention subject before filling a patent application is a ‘first claim’ of the owners to protect their original idea that led to the invention. It also further advised that the publication if peer reviewed is a credit.
The Process Of Registering A Patent
The process of patenting inventions may be complex at times and the academic researchers who mainly focus on publishing their work in scientific journals often face daunting doubts when it comes to understanding the interplay between patenting and publishing their findings.
Publishing before patenting may result in the loss of patent rights if one does not follow the patenting timetable religiously and the One Year Grace Period. If we look into the USPTO Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP), it is mentioned that, “If one discloses one’s own work more than 1 year before the filing of the patent application, that person is barred from obtaining a patent. In re Katz, 687 F.2d 450, 454, 215 USPQ 14, 17 (CCPA 1982).” In simple words, if one discloses his/her research for peer review and publication – that takes around 6 months for that review or release of publication, he/she may only have 6 months after publication to file the patent application – with a few possible exceptions. Hence, if your invention is commercially important, it is better to discuss your situation with a competent patent attorney prior to publishing your research.
Publish or Perish
Mostly in scientific domains, researchers believe in “first to publish” or “publish or perish” culture. And they do so before registering their patent, because:
- Academic researchers are constantly under pressure to increase their publication count in order to establish their subject expertise for career growth.
- Having limited exposure to the potential worth of a patent, the young researchers may be unaware of the significance of keeping their key research findings to themselves.
- The costs involved in a patent application may exceed the rewards of doing so, applied in case of mall innovations.
Why is Patent Protection so Necessary?
The most valuable asset of every academic researcher is their research idea! Without a registering patent, anyone can copy the invention with complete liberty. And filing patent will safeguard your ownership, give you exclusive rights on your invention and restrict others from exploiting your patent for their own gains. This also helps you to benefit commercially from the invention and have significant financial returns. Hence, researchers must file their research patent prior to the publications of their invention.
How To Balance Both Patents and Publications?
To succeed in the age of competition where scientific arena is expanding rapidly, it is crucial for a researcher to continue publish papers, presenting at conferences, and win grants. And to achieve the best of both worlds, the below points need to be kept in mind:
- It’s always better to take advice from your institution’s technology transfer department and Intellectual Property (IP) offices to plan strategies for ensuring patent protection. This will help you spreading your knowledge in the scientific community.
- File a patent before you speak about, present, or publish your work in the public domain.
- Be more careful while presenting your work or writing the abstract, not showcasing others too many details of your research that may enable a third party to copy your invention.
- Prepare a skeleton of your research work, without spelling out each and every aspect, while having a word with potential organizations or companies.
- If you are willing to discuss regarding your research with a third party (potential investors/buyers), make sure that a confidentiality agreement is signed prior to the meet.
- Use codes to describe your data, elements, or any other principal components.
- Look for legal experts about how to best present your work.
Therefore, scientists must ensure they file a patent application first and then publish it in any academic journal. For a win-win situation, all you need some planning, self-discipline, forethought, and vigilance. If you need any help regarding this, please reach Aumirah at email@example.com. Our experts are ready to provide you with any assistance you may need.
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