Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NASA astronauts that own patents

One of the misison specialists on the last Space Shuttle mission was Karen Nyberg, a mechnical engineer selected by NASA in 2000. According to press accounts, she is an inventor for a patent on robotic arms. A Canadian astronaut holds some patents - Bjarni Tryggvason: and David A. Wolf (BSEE, M.D.) who is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association; the Experimental Aircraft Association; the International Aerobatic Club; and the Air National Guard (retired). He is also a Recipient of the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1990); NASA Inventor of the Year, 1992. Dr. Wolf graduated "with distinction" from the honors curriculum in electrical engineering at Purdue University and received an Academic Achievement Award upon graduation from medical school. He received the Carl R. Ruddell scholarship award for research in medical ultrasonic signal and image processing. He is a member of Eta Kappa Knu and Phi Eta Sigma honorary societies. Dr. Wolf has received 15 U.S. Patents and over 20 Space Act Awards primarily for 3-dimensional tissue engineering technologies, earning the Texas State Bar Patent of the Year in 1994. He has published over 40 technical papers.

Patent writing basics

Unique free-market commerce in US so far has shaped an inventive environment that has developed the most practical and fair patenting system. The clarity of English language, and the rules for pedantic, though precise method of expressing, describing, teaching, claiming and enabling an invention made a US patent the most authoritative business tool.

Regardless of business intentions, or the caliber of an inventor, a patent, when written with utmost care, would always protect the intellectual rights of the inventor. Unlike patenting requirements overseas, which have a flavor of braggadocio, commercial cliches, and egotistic whitewash.

A good example is the European use of characterized in the claim language. The word is the most obtuse, most foreign to the legal profession, and, for the lack of a fancy word, plain fuzzy.

Characterized is more common to the software programmers' object-class milieu. It is more common to psychologists, art reviewers, and any profession that has to describe a behavior or an appearance in arbitrary, non-binding terms. Characterized in no way belongs in patents, i.e., in the claims section of a patent, where every word counts, and often limits the scope of the invention, and often the intellectual rights of the inventor.

The claims section is the crucial centerpiece of a patent, staking out the inventor's territory in the land of similar inventions.

The seemingly rigid structure of the powerful claims section will explained later. The thrust of the overall patent sytarts with the background section.


A typical language for the section must contain passages closely structured around the following:

The application claims the benefit of priority from provisional U.S. Patent Application Serial No. zz/xxx,yyy filed Mmm. xx, YYYY which is expressly incorporated herein by reference. (if the full application is based on a provisional (informal, loossly written, filed less than 12 months prior to furnishing the patent application) application) and/or

The unexpected and advantageous results achieved from creating customized voice processing systems which are adaptable to new voice processing applications, when confronted with particular customer demands, are extraordinary in light of the present state of the art.


An illustrative example will provide to those with skill in the art an appreciation of the magnitude of this problem.


While the Claims section is the legalistic support column of the patent, the technical description must start with a formal disclosure of the invention. Since the Claims language is legal, the language thereof precludes it from describing the invention to the general public.

The disclosure begins with the Summary of the Invention, and these guidelines for power passages:

Satisfaction of the above-referenced long-felt needs in the art is accomplished by the present invention, which provides an application development environment that allows customization of integrated voice processing systems

Maybe the next time the Claims section would be explained in more detail.