Joe Birkner's Patent and Info Pages



The Patent and Trademark Office has FREE booklets and good basic information about inventing and PTO services.  Call (24 hours/day) and you will get a 'menu voice mail' which allows you to order various publications and booklets FREE!!

CALL 1-800-PTO-9199  or visit their web site

 PTO has an Independent Inventor's web site you don't want to miss!!  Check it out:   NEW PTO INDEPENDENT INVENTOR'S WEB SITE
"Don't be Fooled by Wanna-bees!  Deal only with persons Registered to Practice Patent Law!"
The USPTO has a roster of registered patent agents and patent attorneys who are licensed by passing a rigorous patent bar exam to practice patent law before the US Patent & Trademark Office. Others who are not registered are forbidden, by law, to file patent applications for clients and to give legal advice in patent matters.
Now, patent applications which were previously not published WILL be published after 18 months (with some exceptions).  What this means is that these applications will be available as PRIOR ART which may impact the patentability of your invention.   If you are working on an invention you may want to consider filing a patent application as soon as possible to minimize the possibility of being denied a patent because of "Surprise Prior Art". For details  email your patent agent  or read more at  18 Month Publication 

Good Information about patents     PATENTS ET AL  (coming Soon)

From time to time, NEWS & INFORMATION of particular interest to IANE members will be found on this page. This is provided voluntarily as a benefit of membership in IANE and is merely presented as information only. Disclaimed are any claims as to accuracy or 'goodness to fit' and of applicability in a particular case.  Use it at your own disgression and risk. Obtain legal advice and professional help before venturing too far in patent matters.  "Dont just sit there..INVENT!!"

Do you need help with your invention?  Are you looking for an expert?  Maybe the person was sitting next to you at the last IANE Meeting, but you didn't know thier name or what they do.  Maybe their 'mug shot' will 'ring a bell'??  IANE member Shirley Woo, (, Profile Master has volunteered to prepare Profiles of IANE Members, "mug shots",  their inventing help needs, expertise and  items of general interest.   Our Member Profiles resources can help you get 'unstuck'.  A special web site link has been dedicated to IANE MEMBERS ONLY who may access this password protected site at  IANE MEMBERS ONLY WEB SITE .


"The UIA (United Inventor's Association) confers its EXCELLENCE AWARD on non-profit inventor organization web sites that explain the process of product development, provide extensive links to other  web sites and sources of information, and promote a positive image of inventors."
"It is my pleasure to inform you that your site has been selected for the Fourth Annual UIA Website Excellence Award. This is our way of recognizing your efforts to inform, educate and connect independent inventors. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. On behalf of independent inventors everywhere, we thank you".  
Keep up the good work,
Bob Lougher, Executive Director, UIA
IANE  is pleased to receive the coveted UIA 2003 Excellence Award  for our original web site and thank Bob Lougher, the entire staff of UIA and the independent inventors and visitors who have nominated us for the award.  We have a dedicated group of volunteer inventors who have helped make this web site what it is. We will continue to serve you well by providing useful information of interest to the invention community.  Thanks.  Joe Birkner  webmaster.
USPTO Web Site For Independent Inventors

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s Web site specifically meets the special needs and interests of independent inventors and entrepreneurs who comprise about 18% of filers of patents with the USPTO.  “How to” brochures, previously available only in paper, are now posted on USPTO Web pages expressly designed for independent inventors. Links to other useful USPTO Web pages, such as the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program and Patent Cooperation Treaty, have been added, as have links to other government agencies, including the Small Business Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, each of which have programs and information useful to independent inventors. USPTO’s independent inventor Web site now also has a useful “tip of the month.” 
The Inventor Assistance Program Web site is located at:  INVENTOR'S ASSISTANCE 

 SUPREME COURT PATENT DECISION FAVORS INVENTORS in re. FESTO CORP. vs. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co. Ltd.No.00-1543. Argued January 8, 2002 -- Decided  May 28, 2002 copyright 2002
By Joseph R. Birkner, Registered Patent Agent
After a 13 year long battle, regarding, essentially what was considered to be equivalent, the ruling in the case of Festo Corp. vs. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co. Ltd. partially restores an inventor's right to use the "doctrine of equivalents," a concept that  allows broad interpretation of patents, to defend against infringement.  This would only apply if the  inventor can prove that he or she could not have foreseen the development of a  competing technology. Without a crystal ball, the inventor, with proof, may have a good chance at arguing this point provided the inventor did not know about a company's developments.  This underscores the reason for  having a good patent search professionally conducted to possibly uncover the latest technology which may avoid such issues. 
    On May 28, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court returned a level of  protection to small inventors and to patent holders against  would-be copycats in a case that handed a partial victory, for now, to FESTO CORP.  But the ruling puts a new burden of proof on original  patent holders to continue to defend their claims as has always been the case, now, however, it may be more favorable to do so, in view of the latest decision.  The details and legal ramifications of FESTO are quite detailed and lots of discussion regarding its impact will be forthcoming.  Briefly, FESTO, a robotic products maker,  involved earlier in 1988, in a suit against SMC Corp. for patent  infringement because SMC had made a product that so closely mimicked its own that their parts were interchangeable and indistinguishable.   A decision in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (CAFC), at that time, ruled in favor of SMC, because FESTO amended their patent claims and which the CAFC said was no longer equivalent (to SMC's invention).  Now, after much soul searching and debate, the Supreme Court vacated the CAFC decision, overturning it, which impacts other cases including  Kabushiki and thereby in re-affirming the so-called doctrine of equivalents. The Supreme Court set new guidelines that the amended claims must meet to receive doctrine of  equivalent protection and squashed the  lower court's attempt to effectively rewrite patent law.  This is why it is very crucial that a patent practioner skilled in current patent law matters prosecute an inventor's application.  It is not for the do-it-yourselfer.  Had this decision not been overturned, it would have not been as favorable for inventors, because in very simple terms, for example, if an element such as  a fastener in the patent application for connecting two parts together is called a screw, a rivet may not be equivalent under the CAFC, which is ridiculous.  Fortunately, the Supreme Court intervened in a manner beneficial to inventors, especially, independent inventors.  Had they not done so, would have, in my opinion, been a grave misjustice, and would have ursurped the purpose of patent protection by severely and unwisely limiting the scope of coverage which would have poured ice water on creativity.   I'd be happy to discuss the ramifications of this ruling with IANE members. 


The US Dept. of Energy's "Inventions and Innovation Program" provides financial assistance for establishing technical performance and conducting early development of innovative ideas and inventions that can lead to significant energy savings impact.  Financial assistance is given at two levels - Category 1 for up to $40,000 for conceptual ideas and Category 2 for up to $200,000 for the minimum requirement of a completed engineering analysis and/or a bench scale model.  The grants are restricted to US applicants with special consideration given to individual inventors and small businesses.  For more information, visit DOE  Web site:  

Useful Links and Information For Inventors and Entrepreneurs
Provided by The U.S. Dept. of Energy


After visiting any of these links, be sure to return to IANE at  or Return to Joe Birkner's Info Page

US PATENT & TRADEMARK OFFICE Special Independent inventor's pages  PTO Independent Inventors

U.S. Department of Energy Possible funding for your energy related invention  D.O.E.

 Learn how things work   How Stuff Works

Do You Have An Idea For an Invention?   FROM IDEA To INVENTION  (coming soon)

Patent Information of Interest  PATENT PLACE (coming soon)

Good Information about patents    PATENTS ET AL   (coming soon)

Inventor's Digest Magazine is a great publication for Inventors   Inventors' Digest

Wide range of drawing & design services for inventors and entrepreneurs available from  Holt Drawing & Design

Product and Business Development Services    ENBEDE    

Product development and innovation expert Louis Foreman is the creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning PBS show Everyday Edisons, CEO of Edison Nation, publisher of Inventors Digest magazine, founder and chief executive of the integrated product design and engineering firm Enventys, creator of five successful startups, and holder of nine US Patents.  His firm is responsible for the development and filing of 150 more. (October 12, 2009:  Speaker)

The "BIG IDEA GROUP (BIG) " conducts IDEA HUNTS for companies seeking new inventions to be put into the marketplace.  Michael Collins is the founder and CEO of Big Idea Group (BIG), an invention development agency. BIG conducts nationwide Roadshows, where inventors confidentially present ideas to a panel of industry experts, and Idea Hunts, where client companies solicit BIG’s inventor network for ideas relating to market opportunities. Since its inception in 2000, Big Idea stated that they have developed or licensed over 30 ideas, working with such companies as Target, Toys “R” Us, Avon, Hasbro, QVC, Basic Fun, Skil-Bosch, Binney & Smith, Dremel and Staples, among others.  BIG is headquarted in Manchester, New Hampshire.   BIG IDEA GROUP (November 11, 2013; Speaker)

Gus Bigos of Evergreen IP  spoke on Commercializing Your Invention,  including trends in open innovation at consumer product companies, key attributes of successful new products, pros and cons of various routes to commercialization, including (but not only) a discussion of the approach at Evergreen IP.  Note that some inventions of IANE member Nancy Kerrigan are being developed by Evergreen IP.  (May 15, 2006: Speaker)  

GREAT INFO Helpful tips and info of interest to budding inventors 
 INVENTING TIPS  More tips to help you invent better
SHARK TANK  Two important lessons learned.