Mechanical Engineering Patents

Mechanical engineering patents have been around since the beginning of civilization. Whether it began with the use of hand tools, eventually leading to heavy machinery and equipment, and even appliances, mechanical engineering has been in existence for a long time. More specifically, this type of engineering deals with anything from the use of machinery and designing certain processes to the mass production of commercial and domestic products. All such products need mechanical engineering. And with mechanical engineering, patent protection is a must.

History of Mechanical Engineering Patents

  • Ford Motor Company and General Electric are two of the most popular companies that hold a significant amount of patents supporting their businesses.
  • General Electric not only holds patents in the U.S. but worldwide, particularly in India.
  • Companies who have created products over the years hold what are called ‘legacy patents,’ which include items like the sewing machine, typewriter, the pistol, and the printing press.
  • Patents that were obtained between 1800 and 1900 were mostly mechanical engineering-related. During this time, automobile makers like Ford, Dodge, and General Motors, all designed models specific to their businesses.
  • Mechanical engineering includes automotive engineering and R&D expenditure.
  • Larger companies that operate over a wide variety of industries obtain more mechanical engineering patents than businesses focusing in one specific area.

How to Search Mechanical Engineering Patents

If you have a new design, process, or invention and you need to search for mechanical engineering patents, keep in mind that it can take some time. You’ll need to learn the entire search process and spend a good deal of your time analyzing the results.

Step 1. Write down the search results. Not only will you want to write them down, but you’ll want to keep all records from your searches, i.e., document numbers, application documents, etc. You also want to keep in mind the date/time you ran your searches.

Step 2. Conduct both a keyword and comprehensive patent search way, you’ll run a keyword search, but follow it up with category and sub-category searches to ensure that you have exhausted all of your options when searching.

Improving Your Product

You’ll first need to have some knowledge in the industry. You might have an invention but no common knowledge of that particular industry or area. Do your research online.

You might also want to find out if the public needs what you have just invented. Look for those utility patents on certain inventions regarding technological areas to find out the appetite for it.

Look online for pictures under the appropriate design class that you believe your mechanical engineering creation will fall under. To do this, look in the design database, which is published separately from the utility patent database.

Most mechanical engineering patents include a combination of text and illustrations, and it is important to have both items flow well with one another in your patent application. Therefore, before you submit your own application, do your homework by reviewing other similar applications that provide both text and pictures.

Other Items for Consideration

  • U.S. patent classification codes (USPC) are applicable only to U.S. patents.
  • European classification codes (ECLA) are applicable to European patents.
  • Section F of the ECLA is applicable to only mechanical engineering.
  • International Patent Classification (IPC) are codes that are managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and are now generally applied to patents by various patent offices worldwide.
  • IPCs can also be used to search the patent databases.
  • F-terms and F-Index are applicable to Japanese patents. This system includes themes and associated terms within each theme to differentiate each categorization of patents. Each theme has various viewpoints, which describe the different aspects of each invention.
  • The USPC, however, doesn’t use themes. Instead, it uses categories that are further divided into sub-categories.
  • While different countries utilize different methods for classification, the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) use of themes and terms helps those searching since they can focus on specific terms and identify key patents rather than searching by keyword or trying to search through several patents in a sub-category.
  • Another helpful search method is to first focus narrowly on your search and then broaden your search each and every time. That way, you cover all different ways to search and ensure that you did the necessary research before drafting a patent application for submittal.

If you need help searching for mechanical engineering patents or want to learn how to patent a mechanical engineering-related product or process, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.