Academic papers in engineering sometimes propose a new model to tackle prior difficulties. These proposed models are not usually patented. For example in experimental papers and many power electronic papers, the models are fully available.
I have a published work that proposes a new model, but it is pure computer simulation and math.

So, my questions:

  1. Can I patent my own published paper?
  2. Can I use others' paper and patent their idea? (specifically experimental for papers)
  3. If the answer of 1 or 2 is not, how many modifications do I need to apply in my model be able to patent it?
  4. If I have an original idea to propose a new model, what should I do then: A patent or good rank ISI paper?
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    My understanding is, the fact that it is published means that it cannot be patented, even if it is your idea. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 19:51
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    Note that the motivation for publication and for patenting differ: one is to share knowledge freely, for the betterment of humankind; the other is to make a buck usually of some insignificant idea, without going through the effort of building a proper business idea, though also for protecting actual business intellectual property. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 19:58
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    If my objective is to have a better reputation and resume as a graduted M.Sc who would like to achieve a good scholarship for studying PhD abroad, what would you propose? (Note: I have 2 good rank ISI paper already) @DaveClarke
    – Masan
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 20:02
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    Trying to patent someone's published idea isn't going to get too far, or should the patent office not do their job, it would not withstand any scrutiny in the patent courts. It is also bad form...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 21:36
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    @Jamaisavenir Also bear in mind that filing and maintaining a patent costs money, and if you aren't making money off the patent (by exploiting or licensing it) then it is a complete waste.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 8:51

4 Answers 4


If I have an original idea to propose a new model, what should I do then: A patent or good rank ISI paper?

It depends on your objectives.

  1. If you want to make money from your model: Get a patent.
  2. If you want to earn academic reputation: Publish a paper.

In many cases, it's actually possible to do both - assuming your "model" can be patented at all. However, note that patent fees can be quite expensive, and it is usually only worth paying if you really aim to make money from it. The academic reputation gain from a patent is mostly marginal.

  • The academic reputation gain from a patent is mostly marginal. Good to know. Thanks for your answer @silvado
    – Masan
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 19:48

You don't patent papers. You patent ideas.

You can't patent other people's published work because their published papers are clear evidence of prior art.

Why do you want to patent a computer model in the first place? Why do you want to restrict people's use of it? How lucrative will it be?

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    Do you think that publishing a paper for your model helps more than patenting it for your reputation? Please tell me your opinion for both academia and industry @curiousdannii
    – Masan
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 22:45
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    I don't think a patent alone means anything - there are plenty of examples of useless / bizarre patents out there. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 0:09

Adding to the other fine answers:

  • It costs a considerable amount of money to file a patent.
  • Patents are written using very specific idiom and formulations. There are commercial bureaus that rewrite your idea into a proper patent proposal, but that also costs a serious amount of money.
  • You can find most patents through the world intellectual property organisation (WIPO): https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/search.jsf . Have a look there and read some patents in your target domain, if you want to proceed.
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    Don't underestimate the impact of point 2. The language of patents merges technical jargon with legalese. I have trouble reviewing my own patent applications after they have been rewritten. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 13:25

Im Not A Lawyer. Heres what I have found in my own experience.

First, this is very country specific. Both in terms of what is 'good' for reputation and what is allowed by the patent law.

In many countries, you can publish a paper and then patent the (or some of) idea within a certain time period, usually under 1 year, of course, it must be your paper.

As for modifications, that will be up to the evaluator. There are rules, novelty, innovative step, etc. You need to read your specific countries rules for what qualifies an idea to pass.

In some countries and research areas, patents are well regarded. For example, in parts of Asia, I have seen patents very admired as it helps research institutes make money that can be used outside of the normal grant allowances.

This all depends on your target audience. If you want to join the lab of someone who is very open-source minded, having a patent might be a turn off for them. If you join a lab that has many grants from industry, it is possible they like to have someone with experience in patents, which could lead to a better chance of getting industry funded projects if the company wants to work with people that can get patents from research funding (which can be shared IP or not, depending on location).

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    It is very good to know these information, thanks. I think I'm going to publish my model as only a paper like my other works. This is also easier for me as I don't need to implement my model and a computer simulation is okay. I was thinking that patent is a huge thing, but now i am convinced that papers are as (sometimes more) important as (than) patents @user1938107
    – Masan
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 6:41

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