Law students give patent help worth thousands to inventors

Law students give patent help worth thousands to inventors

URBANA – Law students involved in the University of Illinois College of Law's Patent Clinic are writing patent applications for eight teams of student inventors, according to a release from the UI's Technology Entrepreneur Center.

The student inventors participated in the V. Dale Cozad New Venture Competition and in the Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Prize competition.

The patent clinic reviewed the inventions to determine whether they were patentable, then drafted applications at no cost to the students. If the applications had been drafted by a law firm, it's estimated they would have cost about $10,000 apiece.

Innovations selected for the patent clinic and the student inventors behind them included:

– A screen that keeps water fresh and enhances the shelf life of milk at ambient temperatures. Zeba Parkar and James Economy invented Silver Screen, a screen impregnated with silver nanoparticles, in hopes of helping farmers and people in developing countries.

– Whiteboard paint that, when applied to any surface, can turn it into a whiteboard on which people can write with dry-erase markers. Siri Chakka created Flow, a technology that could be beneficial for classrooms and conference rooms. The paint has no volatile organic compounds.

– A "liquid level" system that can be used in industrial settings and field deployments. Blake Landry and James Palmer created Liquid Level as a low-cost, multisensor system that can monitor precipitation, sea levels, wave heights and groundwater levels in wells. It can also capture data in more complex situations, such as a breaking water wave.

– A wheelchair with a disk brakes and a hill-assist function to help users travel uphill without rolling backwards. Timothy Newman is the creator of Wheelchair Safety, which was designed with new and elderly users in mind.

– Low-cost, single-use blood panels and automated analysis devices. Those are the products of Citus Medical, started by Daniel Knipmeyer and Andrew Naber to provide diagnostic solutions for developing countries.

– Microfluidic logic devices that enable inexpensive disease diagnosis for underdeveloped countries. The innovation was developed by Tarun Malik of Liquid Computing.

– A signal driver technology that can improve the brightness, color depth and simplicity of display technologies. Martin McCormick created XOR Displays with the hope that the technology would be applied to the creation of transparent displays and new sensing systems.

– An apparatus that helps in decision-making and learning, developed by Donna Murray-Tiedge of 3DResearch.

The law students expect to finalize the patent applications later this month and turn them over to the inventors. After receiving authorization from the UI's Office of Technology Management, the inventors can file the applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

It's the third year of operations for the patent clinic, which has drafted more than 20 patent applications for student inventors.

Law students involved in the patent clinic have taken Adjunct Professor Joseph Barich's Patent Prosecution class.

Also volunteering time to the clinic has been Nicholas Lenzen of Chicago-based Lenzen Intellectual Property Corp., who provides professional drawings for the patent applications.

Typically, the drawings would cost about $1,000 per patent application.