A university in China published a research paper about a much better, flexible and more efficient solar surface, and as of today, there is no product in the market that uses the methods they described. In order to put together a product using the research I would need to hire a team of engineers, but I think it would be worth it if we could achieve the same results the research shows. How do I know if I'm free to use the research for my own benefit or if it's patented?
hi neha... you don't know definitively really.
depending on country university research could be covered by intellectual property laws. I'm not sure about China.
you're going to have to find out. the first method is to approach the university and ask them if the technology is covered by intellectual property laws if the answer is yes. then you can ask them to allow you to use the technology. if they refuse you could ask them to grant you licence to use the research. that should cover you.
the second is to get a qualified patent lawyer to check...it's going to be expensive... but if you're serious... it's worth doing...it can save you a lot of money in the future... especially if you are deliberately copying aspects of the technology to shorten your R&D cycle.
there are unethical ways as well of using the research... i would say never to take that approach...
hope that helps. :-)
I would say that once it is publicly reviewed it could be public domain having said that if you are successful I can bet my last dollar there will be a heard of lawyers ready to take a stab at nailing you for using their research.. I would.. LOL
Neha, From an ethical standpoint you need to contact the university. Too much copying in business. Too much greed. This helps no one and does not advance the world or global societies. You may also find that the group in China would value your efforts. If they are interested to work with you, move forward with the legal steps to verify you are in the clear. If they are not interested, you can then move forward with the legals steps and if you are cleared, that is when you can know ethically you reached out, and they passed. You may proceed and know you did not seek to utilize someone else's hard work without first seeking collaboration. Regarding one of the answers about differentiating your product, the answer is incomplete. You can not simply add on to an existing product and therefore be in the clear. You must check if there are existing patents. From there, you can create a patent that advances the design in some manner, but in order for you to use any patented element, you must reach a licensing agreement or be prepared to be sued and lose all credibility in the business world as well as face significant fines. You may end up creating a patent that improves a product, and then license back to the original patent owner as well or reach a collaborative and mutual deal for your advancement.
This is really encouraging. You need to get in touch with the researchers. They will be able to advise you on the patents. They should also be available to work with you to attain the same results