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Intellectual Property: A Guide for Engineers

Committee on Public Information
Committee on Public Information
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Section on Intellectual Property Law American Bar Association
Section on Intellectual Property Law American Bar Association
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ASME Press
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The United States patent system was established by the first U.S. Congress in 1790 under a specific grant of authority in the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article I, Section 8. That section states that “Congress shall have the power … to promote the progress of …useful arts, by securing for limited times to …inventors the exclusive right to their …discoveries.” The U.S. Patent Office — now the U .S. Patent and Trademark Office or PTO — is one of the oldest of federal agencies, having been established in 1836 to provide an orderly and systematic examination of patent applications by professional examiners, all of whom are either engineers or scientists, and many of whom in addition have legal education and experience. The U.S. PTO is a key agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce employing more than 2500 examiners. Each of those, in turn, is assigned to examining patent applications in a very narrow area of technology. This organization permits each examiner to become an expert very quickly in his or her specific area of technology.

What Is a Patent?
What Conditions Must Be Met?
Why Obtain a Patent
The Nature of Patent Rights
How to Obtain a Patent
The Employed Engineer as Inventor
Enforcement of a Patent
Trends in Patents
Patent Issues
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