What grace period do inventors have for testing their creations before applying for a patent? The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to tackle the question and is expected to make a decision next year. According to federal law, an inventor cannot get an enforceable patent on an invention that has been "on sale" in the United States for more than a year before application for a patent. But what does "on sale" mean? The law's text is not explicit. Lower courts have ruled that "on sale" can begin whenever an inventor seeks or receives a commercial offer for the invention. Supreme Court justices will attempt to clarify the meaning in the case of Pfaff vs. Wells Electronics. Inventor Wayne Pfaff of Dallas contends that Wells Electronics Inc. of South Bend, IN, infringed his patent on a socket to hold semiconductor chips during testing. The U.S.Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Pfaff, because he had applied for the patent a year and 11 days after receiving an order for 30,100 of the sockets.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Solar and wind energy are becoming more viable as a source of energy on the electric grid. For decades, the major drawback to solar and wind was that they’re temperamental. A cloudy day kills solar and a still day renders the wind turbines useless. Automation tools, however, are providing a path to help these renewables become practical.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.