February 3, 2006
A full house of ECE students attended faculty member Arthur Davidson's seminar on "Patents: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly -- A Critical Look at Intellectual Property in the U.S." Davidson, who himself holds five patents in superconductivity, described practical aspects of the U.S. patent system, including the "how to" of inventing something, disclosing it, and obtaining a patent. He explained that patents are integral to any business plan involving advanced technology, and covered the origins of patents and copyrights, as well as the rights of inventors and owners.
Illustrating examples of patent infringement and invalidation using cases of historical patents from aircraft and radio, Davidson took a critical look at how the system works now. The presentation addressed whether it is possible to patent software and business models, the costs involved, and the incentives of patenting for corporations, individuals, and universities.
"Although patents are central to any business plan involving advanced technology, engineering students often lack knowledge of the patent system." Davidson said. Drawing from his industry experience at IBM, Westinghouse, and Northrop Grumman, he discussed what commercial ventures and venture capitalists are looking for, and offered tips for engineering students with hot, new ideas.
Additionally, Davidson showed students how to search for patents on the United States Patent and Trademark Office web site and introduced Carnegie Mellon's Center for Technology Transfer as a resource. To reach Davidson about speaking on patents involving advanced technology, visit his faculty page for contact details.