Patents and the ECE Department
Being on the forefront of technological research in many areas it is only natural that ECE faculty pursue patents as a normal part of their work. Patents are awarded in the US by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patented technologies often form a critical asset of start-up companies for raising investment and stopping bigger companies from competing in their product space.
Stony Brook’s Office of Technology Licensing and Industry Relations has a web page where you can see the latest technology from Stony Brook inventors available for licensing . The office accepts technology disclosures from faculty, staff and students. Disclosures go through an evaluation process to judge their suitability as a patent application. Although the USPTO issues over 150,000 patents a year, not every technology disclosure leads to a patent application, not every patent application leads to a patent and not every issued patent is licensed. This is a challenging effort as sometimes the value and impact of an invention can not be predicted by professionals or even the inventor. This is an argument in favor of protecting intellectual property through patenting.
In spite of these challenges, Stony Brook University had 7.2 million dollars in royalty income in 2018. That year there were 78 disclosures, 119 patents filed, 27 patents issued and 14 licenses executed.
Students can be co-inventors on Stony Brook patents. Not only do they receive a share of any royalties but the exercise enables students to learn the patenting process, a valuable skill they can carry into future jobs.
Stony Brook University also has a chapter of the National Academy of Inventors, a professional society of inventors. The Stony Brook chapter has 103 members, eight of which are from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept. These are G. Belenky, H. Dhadwal, D. Gaurilov, V. Gorfinkel, M. Gouzman, S. Luryi, T. Robertazzi and L. Shterengas.
The first US patent was issued in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” The ten millionth US patent was issued in 2018 to Joseph Marron for a coherent LADAR [System] using Intra-Pixel Quadrature Detection. Certainly the members of the Stony Brook Electrical and Computer Engineering department will be contributors to this series of inventions that has defined our world for over 200 years for a long time to come.