I have developed a device that would be patentable, however I have no funds to get an international patent.

I suspect that it might be better to write a research paper on the device so that people can read about it and provide funds for a patent, however I am worried that somebody can patent my device after reading my research paper. Alternatively, I could wait for a year or so when the college can get me funds and a patent lawyer and patent it with me.

Which should I do?

  • 2
    Once you have published your paper, nobody else can patent the device you describe in the paper, so no need to worry about that. Further, depending on patent jurisdiction, you may not be able to patent it after publication either.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 19, 2018 at 15:38
  • What kind of commercialization profile would the new device have? For example, are you talking about a piece of computer code, or a common household thing that anyone could make, or a specialized machine that would be deployed only in a few special sites in the world?
    – Nat
    Feb 19, 2018 at 17:22
  • As a head's up, the patent system is a mess, and it's costly by-design. If you want to win at it with no money, you'll probably need a well-informed strategy. (Not a lawyer, etc..)
    – Nat
    Feb 19, 2018 at 17:23
  • If you are affiliated with a university, they'd probably have a patent office. It takes over the patent application (and analysis if it makes sense at all), but at a price. In most cases you would be able to apply for a patent also after publication, but in a limited time frame and-- best ask a lawyer! Feb 19, 2018 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


If you are university affiliated, you should try to find your Office of Commercialization, or something similar. Generally speaking, they can help you through the process, and many universities help cover the fees for patents they consider to have likely commercial potential.

If you publish, that counts as a public presentation, and starts the clock ticking in the U.S.:

An old article on the subject: http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2001/10/patent-first-publish-later-how-not-ruin-your-chances-winning-patent

Other people know this - they're not likely to "provide funds" to you out of the goodness of their hearts if they can just wait a year and use your now patent-free invention. You don't have to worry about them patenting it, but you also lose out on the protection.

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