My question relates to the following thread I posted some weeks ago:

How to publish a paper that does not seem to be within the scope of any journal?

I have written the paper mentioned in that thread, which I HAVE NOT PUBLISHED YET (see the history there; I was entertaining the idea of uploading it in Arxiv, but right now it seems more reasonable to me to keep calm and do not risk anything in any dumb move which might cost me dearly; there is always time to upload it or publish it later on).

The thing is: as of late I have received very positive feedback from some mathematicians and / or computer scientists which read the paper I sent them privately. The paper provides some very fruitful clues for further practical implementation which engineers or computer scientists might undertake. I myself could give them the indications to do it, at least at the beginning. It is not far-reaching to think that some application (algorithm, software and the like) might derive from that. I would like to be legally as assured as it gets, so, the question is twofold, I guess:

Could I patent the basic findings from the paper, without waiting for the specific applications?

Should I necessarily be part of the application in order to economically profit from it, or does any other form suffice (say, the people taking up the task signing their intellectual dependence on the paper or the like?).

I would like to know how to proceed so that the transition is smooth and no one gets busted in the process (neither me nor the others).

  • 1
    How would you show it is "useful" without specific applications? Feb 5, 2016 at 16:43
  • You can't patent "fruitful clues" or "basic findings". From USPTO, "A complete description of the actual machine or other subject matter for which a patent is sought is required." You should find and talk to the IP people at your facility about disclosure, next steps and the assignment of the patent, which might be tied up in your employment agreement and school policy. Feb 5, 2016 at 16:47
  • The paper talks about how to build a certain kind of notation, and gives some examples, but does not build it up in all the specific details.....The paper has been developed apart from my academic affiliation, so that should not be a problem, it is just a private finding if you wish..... Feb 5, 2016 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


What you can and cannot claim in a patent is a highly debated area. You should really consult a legal expert.

If you're affiliated with a college or university, they probably have an office that handles these sorts of things. They'll guide you through the patent process and help cover some/all of the fees. You might not have any choice of working with them. Depending upon your contract, the school might own part of your work and have the legal option to attempt to monetize it first.

If you're not with an organization or you know that you're free from any legal obligations, you should get in touch with a patent lawyer. They can help you draft the patent, help look for prior work, and advise you on the intricacies of international IP.

You can try to patent it on your own, but I really advise against it. A lawyer will help you understand what parts of your work you can patent. They will also help to draft the patent in as broad a way as possible to allow you to claim as much as you can.

  • Which are th costs of the process (fees of the lawyer included)? Feb 5, 2016 at 17:23
  • If you go through your school and they decide it's viable (and want a piece of it), they'll probably pay for the whole shabang.
    – Ric
    Feb 5, 2016 at 17:39
  • This paper has nothing to do with my unis, present or past.....They have never made anything for me... Feb 5, 2016 at 17:47
  • Does matter. If you were part of a University when you did the work, they may have a claim to it, regardless of the subject or when you worked on it. You'll have to check your contract.
    – Ric
    Feb 5, 2016 at 17:49
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    I'm sorry to say this Javier - but if it's worth anything and you did it while enrolled, that's enough. If you sent an e-mail regarding it via their mail servers, or wrote anything down on one of their computers, that's absolutely enough for them to claim partial ownership. It doesn't matter if they tried to stop you from doing it even - while you're at the uni, they own your ideas. Apr 23, 2016 at 16:10

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