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Ekstrom Library

BE 480: Biomedical Device Design


About Patents

Registering for a patent gives patent holders the exlusive right to make, use, offer for sale, sell, and import an invention.

The process: 

  • Before you apply for a patent, conduct a thorough search for similar previous patents. You can ask for help from experts and resource centers.
  • During the review process, experts will search for previous patents and determine if your investion is patentable.
  • If granted, it's up to the holder to enforce a patent through the legal process within its jurisdiction.

Other basics: 

  • Medical devices typically fall under utility patents.
  • Patent law is different for each country. 
  • Generally good for 20 years. 

Adapted from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Finding Patents

There are various databases that pull from the US patent office and internationally that I recommend. 

If you're just getting started and looking for what's out there, search for patents using broad or specific keywords and sort by:

  • Status - Grant, Granted, or Active
  • Country or jurisdiction - US

Literature Searching

I recommend getting started in the following library databases for literature searching using both broad and narrow keywords (example: toilet design hospital accessibility). You may also find literature cited in patents linked in the record page.

Industry & Market Research

If you're just getting started, it may be helpful to look at the industry more broadly. Look up industries quickly with using the North American Industry Classification System. The NAICS code for Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing is 33911. 

Citation Management

There are two citation management tools I recommend, Zotero and EndNote. Zotero has an easy to use browser extension to add citaitons and PDFs to your library, but it has limited storage with the free account. EndNote that has more storage for free as a unviersity student, but it can be more difficult to use. You can get help with both through the library. 

Zotero versus EndNote
Features Zotero EndNote
Requires university email
Export citations from databases to a library
Add citations to a library quickly with a browser extension
Add notes and annotate PDFs
Share group libraries
Add citations in Word or Google Docs
Free storage limit 300 MB 2 GB

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