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Millions from the Mind


Jacob Fraden's In-the-Ear Infrared Thermometer

The physical drawing from Jacob Fraden's IR Thermometer patent

Notice all the PCT stuff in Jacob Fraden's thermometer patent. If you're going to file a PCT application to allow delay of foreign filing you must file it within 12 months of your first US application--even if that's a Provisional Application for Patent.

A schematic representation of Jacob Fraden's infrared thermometer.



You may have also noticed that the PCT application was published more than two years before the patent was issued. PCT applications are published 18 months from their priority date whether that is established by filing a Provisional Application for Patent (PAP) or a full application.

If you look closely you may note the PCT was filed at the USPTO, that is what the "US" in the PCT No. field means. It was filed within 1 year of the April 17, 1985 abandoned filing which it relies on for priority, and it was published right on schedule at 18 months from that abandoned app. You remember, of course, that "abandoned" in patentese does not have the same meaning as in ordinary English. In essence the original application serial number has been abandoned, not the invention or application contents.

This patent is an exceptionally good example of the difference between an "idea" and a "patentable invention." The law will not allow you to get a patent on a "mere idea or suggestion." If that had been the case then Jacob would likely have been out of luck because others would have already gotten patents on the "mere idea" of an infrared reading thermometer without having actually had to go to the trouble of inventing one that really worked. In fact, if your description of your "invention" in your patent does not "describe your invention in sufficient terms that one of ordinary skill in the art of the invention can make or use it without undue experimentation" your patent is invalid. True, you and someone else would have big legal bills before that court declaration of invalidity but your "idea" patent would be worthless nonetheless. Jacob's patent application adopted a problem-then-solution approach to addressing exactly what is necessary to make a successfully working in-the-ear infrared thermometer.


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