Patent Clinic reaches out to student innovators

4/7/2010 12:00:00 PM

This year, the law students enrolled in the Patent Clinic in the College of Law are authoring patent applications for eight student innovators at the Technology Entrepreneur Center (TEC).

Founded in 2008 as a joint effort of the TEC and Professor Joseph M. Barich of the College of Law (COL) at Illinois, the Patent Clinic allows law students the opportunity to draft patent applications for student inventors.

The student inventors were selected from participants in the V. Dale Cozad New Venture Competition (CNVC) and the Lemelson-MIT Illinois Student Prize, both of which are administered by the TEC. The Patent Clinic reviews the student innovations and, if an innovation is considered potentially patentable, drafts a patent application on the innovation at no cost to the student. Consequently, the student innovators are provided with a service that would have cost them around $10,000 per patent application, were the patent applications drafted in a law firm.

“It is always amazing to see the depth and richness of student innovation that is going on here at the University of Illinois.” Barich remarked. “It has been a pleasure to partner with the TEC to provide soon-to-be patent lawyers with the opportunity to hone their skills while at the same time providing a valuable service for university student entrepreneurs and innovators. The opportunities provided by the TEC represent the forefront of the ever-improving entrepreneurial ecosystem that is arising to assist student ventures.”

This year, the Patent Clinic also received a boost from Nicholas Lenzen of Lenzen Intellectual Property Corporation in Chicago. Lenzen agreed to sponsor the Patent Clinic by volunteering his time to provide figure and drawing drafting services for the patent applications for the innovations in the Clinic at no charge to the inventors or to the university. This is an additional benefit for the inventors, because they are provided with professional drawings to be included in their patent applications at no charge – a service that typically costs around $1,000 per patent application.

“This is a great benefit for our student inventors, as it gives them access to something that they would likely not be able to afford on their own at this early stage in their innovation process,” said TEC assistant director Rhiannon Clifton. “We enjoy working with Professor Barich on this effort, and look forward to working with Mr. Lenzen. We greatly appreciate everything that these individuals and the law students have done for our student innovators.”

Innovations Selected for the Patent Clinic

  • Daniel Knipmeyer and Andrew Naber were selected for the innovation behind their startup, Citus Medical, Inc. This team will supply low-cost, single-use blood panels and affordable automated analysis devices that will provide diagnostic solutions for developing countries.
  • Zeba Parkar and James Economy have invented the Silver Screen – a screen impregnated with silver nanoparticles that keeps water fresh and enhances the shelf-life of milk at ambient temperatures. This technology is especially helpful for farmers and people of developing countries.
  • Donna Murray-Tiedge has constructed an apparatus that aids in decision making and learning. 3DResearch utilizes haptic qualities that allow the user to engage in the thinking process by permitting them to manipulate the tactile components.
  • Siri Chakka, the creator of Flow, has developed a no-VOC whiteboard paint. This paint allows the user to paint any surface to then use it as a white board with standard dry erase markers. This technology will be particularly beneficial for classrooms and conference rooms.
  • XOR Displays offers a new type of signal driver technology for displays that can improve the brightness, grayscale/color depth, response and simplicity of display technologies. In the future, the inventor, Martin McCormick, aims to see the technology applied to the creation of transparent displays and new sensing systems.
  • Timothy Newman has created a new wheelchair idea through the startup, Wheelchair Safety, with a disc brake braking system and a hill assist function to help users travel uphill without rolling backwards. This is especially important in matching the abilities of new and elderly users.
  • Liquid Level, created by Blake Landry and James Palmer, is a low-cost, multi-sensor, liquid level system that can easily be used in industrial settings as well as field deployments such as monitoring precipitation, sea levels, wave heights, and groundwater levels in wells. The system is advanced enough to capture data of complex liquid interfaces such as a breaking water wave.
  • Tarun Malik of Liquid Computing has created fully-integrated, passive microfluidic logic devices. Through its integration, this technology enables inexpensive disease diagnosis for underdeveloped countries.

The participating law students will finalize the patent applications in late April, and turn them over to the inventors. Once the inventors have received authorization from the Office of Technology Management (OTM), the inventors may proceed to file the patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

This year marks the third year that the Patent Clinic has been operating and over its history, over 20 patent applications have been drafted for student inventors.

Contact: Rhiannon Clifton, assistant director, Technology Entrepreneur Center, 217/244-4035.

Writer: Danyelle Michelini, marketing and journalism intern, Technology Entrepreneur Center.

If you have any questions about the College of Engineering, or other story ideas, contact Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office, 217/244-7716, editor.