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Office of General Counsel


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What is a patent?

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to an inventor (or an inventor’s assignee) to exclude others from making, using, offering f

or sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States (this is known as the “patent grant”) (see

There are three types of patents. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant (see

Who may apply for a patent?

Generally, only the inventor, or a person to whom the inventor has assigned the invention or to whom the inventor has an obligation to assign the invention may apply for a patent. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • If the inventor is deceased, the application may be made by legal representatives of the inventor’s estate.
  • If the inventor is legally incapacitated, the application for patent may be made by a legal representative (i.e. guardian).
  • If an inventor refuses to apply for a patent or cannot be found, a joint inventor may apply on behalf of the non-signing inventor.


    If two or more persons make an invention, they must apply for a patent as joint inventors. A person who makes only a financial contribution is not considered a joint inventor (see

Do I have to apply for a patent?

Yes, to receive protection under patent law a patent application must be filed at the USPTO and the patent application must be examined and approved by a Patent Examiner. In addition, publication of patent applications is required by the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 for most patent applications filed on or after November 29, 2000.  To begin the process of invention review and possible patent application filing, please contact the University of Wyoming Research Products Center (contact information below) or visit

How long does patent protection last?

Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Similar to trademarks, the owner of the patent is responsible for enforcing his/her rights in the patent (see 

What are the University of Wyoming’s policies and procedures regarding patentable inventions?

The Vice President for Research and Economic Development is the University officer responsible for articulating policy and procedures concerning patentable inventions in which the University may have or may assert an interest. UW Regulation 3-641 addresses patents at the University and can be found at:

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If you have any questions regarding patents, please contact: the Research Products Center (a department of the Office of Research and Economic Development) at 307-766-2520 or by email at

For more information on patents please see:

UW Regulation 3-641 (Patents and Copyrights):


Research Products Center:


United States Patent and Trademark Office – General Information Concerning Patents:

Contact Us

Office of General Counsel

Tara Evans, General Counsel

Old Main 204

1000 E. University Ave.

Dept. 3434

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-4997

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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