Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Physics & Optical Engineering: Patents / Technical Reports

Library and web resources related to Physics and Applied Optics.


Click Here to access the Patents Training Module

What are patents?

  • Legal rights granted by a government or patent issuing agency to an inventor for 20 years in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. There are some variations to the length of the patent protection.

  • Patent owners have the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention in the jurisdiction in which the patent is registered.

  • Patents can be sold, licensed, reassigned, transferred or simply abandoned.

  • There are more than 100 countries and/or agencies worldwide that grant patents. The laws governing intellectual property vary by country.

What types of patents exist?

  • Utility patent – protects any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof

  • Design patent – protects any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. U.S. design patents are marked with D, Des., or Design.

  • Plant patent – protects invented or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant. U.S. plant patents are marked with PP or Plant.

What are the patentability criteria?

  • The invention must be novel.

    • Has the invention been used in the public, sold, or published anywhere in the world?

  • The invention must have some utility or usefulness.

    • Is the invention useful?  It does not have to be practical.

  • The invention must not be obvious.

    • Is the invention obvious to someone who is skilled in the art?

  • Plus, enough detail about the invention must be shared in the patent so that someone of average skill in the art could understand the invention.


Technical Reports