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.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
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.
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.