Collecting and Describing University-Generated Patents in an Institutional Repository: A Case Study from Rice University

Providing an easy method of browsing a university’s patent output can free up valuable research time for faculty, students, and external researchers. This is especially true for Rice University’s Fondren Library, a USPTO-designated Patent and Trademark Resource Center that serves an academic community widely recognized for cutting edge science and engineering research.

In order to make Rice-generated patents easier to find in the university’s community, a team of technical and public services librarians from Fondren Library devised a method to identify, download, and upload patents to the university’s institutional repository, starting with a backlog of over 300. This article discusses the rationale behind the project, its potential benefits, and challenges as new Rice-generated patents are added to the repository on a monthly basis.


Converting STEM Doctoral Dissertations into Patent Applications: A Study of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Chemical Engineering Dissertations from CIC Institutions

Doctoral candidates may request short-term embargoes on the release of their dissertations in order to apply for patents. This study examines how often inventions described in dissertations in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, and mathematics are converted into U.S. patent applications, as well as the relationship between dissertation approval dates and patent application filing dates.

Dissertations approved in 2008 by the 13 Committee on Institutional Cooperation universities provided the sample populations. Authors were searched as inventors in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Applications Full-text database to identify relevant patent applications. The number of dissertations yielding applications varied by discipline. Mathematics had none; chemical engineering had the most.

The majority of applications in chemical engineering and chemistry were filed either prior to or in the same month as the dissertation approval dates; all of those in physics were filed after them. These results will be of interest to librarians, administrators, advisors, and anyone else associated with determining and approving embargoes for dissertations, as well as science and engineering librarians working with graduate students interested in patenting the results of their research.


Knowledge Sharing Among Inventors: Some Historical Perspectives

This chapter documents instances from past centuries where inventors freely shared knowledge of their innovations with other inventors. It is widely believed that such knowledge sharing is a recent development, as in Open Source Software.

Our survey shows, instead, that innovators have long practiced “collective invention” at times, including inventions in such key technologies as steam engines, iron, steel, and textiles.

Generally, innovator behavior was substantially richer than the heroic portrayal often found in textbooks and museums. Knowledge sharing promoted innovation, sometimes coexisting with patents, at other times, not, suggesting that policy should foster both knowledge sharing and invention incentives.