Classroom Resource: Patents

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Patents are a way of protecting a clever invention of yours. By patenting your design, other teams will have to make a deal with your team to use it.

How to Apply For a Patent

To be patentable, an idea must be original, non-obvious, and not already in common usage. You can only patent mechanical designs, not software or methods of doing something. Here are some examples of reasonable patents:

  1. A clever elevator arm.
  2. An original mechanism that allows the robot to climb over something.
  3. A unique propulsion system.

The following are examples of things that aren’t patentable:

  1. A design you came up with a while back and now other people are already using.
  2. Anything published in a book or on the web.
  3. Obvious things like bigger wheels, common construction techniques

Once you have a design you’d like to patent, bounce it off Dale. If he agrees the design qualifies, he will make an announcement to see if anyone has a good argument as to why a patent should not be granted. If there are none, a photo will be taken of the design and it, along with any notes, will posted for all to refer to. Patents cost 100 RoboBucks.

Licensing Fees

The fee you charge other teams to use your patented design is up to you. Here are a few forms it might take:

  1. RoboBucks
  2. Consulting (the team has to help you do something).
  3. Software
  4. They design and/or build something for you
  5. They give you rights to one of their patents in exchange for the rights to yours.
  6. An IOU for any of the above.

The fee can not involve real money, doing homework, or food.