Intellectual Property

Finding Unknown Anomalies before They Risk Process Safety

Conference Presentation
AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
April 3, 2019
Four out of every five oil historical refinery accidents resulted from unexpected, unknown process and mechanical anomalies rather than known,...

Patent Update: Will Secret Sales Be a Bar to a Patent?

June
2019
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
In one of its rare forays into patent law, the U.S. Supreme Court redefined one type of prior art ( i.e., the pre-existing disclosures or commercial activities that can invalidate a patent), narrowing the opportunities for inventors who engage in...

Patent Update: Patentable Invention or Mere Optimization

March
2019
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Chemical engineers often adjust process parameters to improve the conversion, yield, or product purity of a chemical reaction. But, when is improvement to a known reaction enough to qualify for a patent? The recent decision in E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) v. Synvina C.V. answers this question.

Patent Update: The Long-Term Consequences of Not Paying Maintenance Fees

December
2018
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Maintenance fees must be paid to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to keep a patent in force. If the invention covered by the patent is not in use at the time a maintenance fee becomes due or if the patent owner is short of funds, the...

Patent Update: Prior Commercial Use Can Affect Patentability

September
2018
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Inventors sometimes decide to apply for a patent after the invention has been shown to have commercial value. However, an early commercial use by the patent applicant, rather than a competitor, can be detrimental to a later-filed patent. The case of...

Patent Update: When Patent Enforcement Becomes Explotation

June
2018
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Patents are intended to promote and reward advances in technology, but they can also be a nuisance to both startups and established companies if the patent owner uses the threat of burdensome litigation to coerce companies into paying licensing fees.

Patent Update: Your Invention: Patent Worthy or Merely Inherent?

March
2018
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Many composition-based inventions stem from the discovery of useful but previously unknown properties of the composition. When such a composition is patented, infringers are often tempted to dismiss the patent as merely claiming inherent...

Amp Up Your Engineering Toolkit with Modeling Skills!

Conference Presentation
Southwest Process Technology Conference
October 10, 2014
Modeling and simulation are essential tools in every facet of the process industry with applications continually increasing. The ready availability...

Patent Update: Patent Exhaustion: The Patent Owner’s Dilemma

December
2017
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
A patent gives its owner the right to block others from making, using, or selling products within the patent’s claims, or to demand a license fee for doing so. However, if the patent owner sells a unit covered by the patent’s claims, the patent...

Patent Update: Challenging Your Own Patent — Know the Limitations

June
2017
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Employees typically sign over their inventions to their employers, but this does not prevent employees from later moving on to work for a new employer or starting their own companies. When the business of the new employer or company conflicts with...

November 2016 CEP Preview

November 9, 2016

In addition to this month's cover story on food irradiation, you'll find articles on condensate return systems, budgeting techniques, patent strategies, and much more.

Patents: What Makes an Invention Nonobvious?

November
2016
Career Catalyst
M. Henry Heines
In addition to being novel, an invention must be nonobvious to qualify for a patent. Learn strategies that have and can be used to qualify your invention as nonobvious.

November 2015 CEP Preview

November 16, 2015

This month, CEP's cover feature is liquid-liquid extraction, and members and non-members alike can read the full article online. See the preview for more about this month's issue.

Patent Update: Issues to Consider in Claiming Your Invention

September
2016
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
When applying for a patent, an inventor naturally wants to cast a net wide enough to cover not only what the inventor has actually done but also all variations that utilize the invention’s core innovation. A claim that is too wide, however, can run...

Patent Update: Can a Patent Be Infringed Before It Issues?

June
2016
Patent Update
Henry Heines
How long does a U.S. utility patent remain in force? If asked this question, many might say 20 years. This is not correct, however. The term of a patent is the period of time extending from the issue date of the patent to 20 years from the date on...

Alternate Fuel Synthesis in Supercritical Solvents

Conference Presentation
AIChE Annual Meeting
November 19, 2014
Anant Sarve , Mahesh N. Varma*, Shreeram S. Sonawane. Department of Chemical Engineering, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur,...

Engineering Global Biological Solutions

Conference Presentation
AIChE Annual Meeting
November 17, 2014
The past decades have seen biopharmaceuticals begin to dominate the drug development pathway and already we can see potent biologics bringing...

Patent Update: When Does Patent Infringement Become a Federal Offense?

March
2016
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Patent infringement cases are generally civil matters between the patent owner and the infringer. The two sides present opposing arguments as to, on the one hand, whether the alleged infringer’s actions are actually infringing and, on the other,...

Patents: Crossing the Novelty Threshold

November
2015
Career Catalyst
Henry Heines
Only inventions that are novel qualify for patent protection. Sometimes the novelty of an idea is not readily apparent. Understand where novelty lies so you can identify patentable ideas in your routine engineering work.

Patent Update: Patent Validity Could Come Down to Clarity

December
2015
Patent Update
Henry Heines
A patent is intended to expand the public’s knowledge in a particular area of technology, and it must clearly convey exactly what the patent covers and what it does not. An individual learns that information by reading the patent’s claims, a...

CEP: Patent Update - What Constitutes Inducement to Infringe a Patent?

July
2015
Patent Update
Henry Heines
Can you be held liable for patent infringement even if you do not practice the patented invention? Can a company that sells a material to the manufacturer of a patented product be held liable? Can a vendor that supplies a component to a service provider that assembles or uses a patented system be held liable? Can a supplier of raw materials to a production plant that runs a patented process be held liable?

Patent Update: Process Claims: Know Your Infringer

September
2015
Patent Update
Henry Heines
Process patents are an important class of patents, as many inventions are best-defined, or most clearly patentable, as processes. In many cases, a well-crafted process claim can keep the most threatening competitors at bay and be highly lucrative...

CEP: Patent Update - Do You Qualify as a Co-Inventor?

July
2014
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
Co-inventorship on a patent provides several advantages to an individual, but a proper listing of inventors is both critical to the patent’s validity and can be challenged at any time. A recent case involving a General Electric patent illustrates some of the requirements of a co-inventor and the hurdles that an individual can face when asserting co-inventorship status after a patent has been issued.

CEP: Patent Update - An On-Sale Bar to Patentability Can Arise in Various Ways

February
2014
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
One of the ways in which companies often trip up in their attempts to develop a patent portfolio is by selling a product, or even offering it for sale, before filing a patent application. If more than a year passes between the date of a sale or offer and the application filing date, the application is disqualified from receiving a patent. Likewise, if a sale or offer a year before the filing date is revealed only after the patent has been granted, the patent is declared invalid. In either case, the applicant is barred from obtaining a patent, and this is known as an “on-sale bar.”

CEP: Patent Update - An Invention's Nonobviousness May Not Be Obvious

April
2013
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
To qualify for a patent, an invention must be both novel and nonobvious. Novelty requires that the invention differ in some way from the prior art, such as earlier patents and published materials. Nonobviousness requires that there be more than just...

Co-Inventors: Who Owns the Patent Rights?

June
2012
Patent Update
M. Henry Heines
A joint invention arises from the combined efforts of two or more inventors. Once a patent is granted, however, the inventors do not necessarily share in the rewards.
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