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During the first 6 months of 2012, the EERC Foundation has received an additional nine patents for EERC-developed technologies. The EERC Foundation aggressively pursues patents for a wide variety of EERC-developed technologies to support research, development, and commercialization activities. The EERC Foundation currently holds 33 active patents (19 U.S. and 14 foreign), with an additional three U.S. and four foreign patents that are expected to be issued in the very near future. The EERC Foundation has 23 U.S. and 28 foreign patents pending.

Of the nine patents that have been issued in 2012, five were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):
  • “Advanced Particulate Matter Control Apparatus and Methods,” inventors Jay Almlie, Ye Zhuang, and Stan Miller.
  • “Electrochemical Process for the Preparation of Nitrogen Fertilizers,” inventors Ted Aulich, Ed Olson, and Junhua Jiang.
  • “Sorbents for the Oxidation and Removal of Mercury,” inventors Mike Holmes, John Pavlish, and Ed Olson.
  • “Process for Regenerating a Spent Sorbent,” inventors Mike Holmes, John Pavlish, and Ed Olson.
  • “System and Process for Producing High-Pressure Hydrogen,” inventors Ted Aulich, Mike Collings, Mike Holmes, and Ron Timpe.

The other four patents were issued by foreign countries:
  • “Energy Efficient Process to Produce Biologically Based Fuels,” inventors Ted Aulich, Chad Wocken, Ron Timpe, and Paul Pansegrau, which was issued from the Russian Federation.
  • “Electrochemical Process for the Preparation of Nitrogen Fertilizers,” inventors Ted Aulich, Ed Olson, and Junhua Jiang, which was issued from Mexico Patents Divisional.
  • “Process of Regenerating a Spent Sorbent,” inventors Mike Holmes, Ed Olson, and John Pavlish, which was issued from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
  • “Application of Microturbines to Control Emissions of Associated Gas,” inventor Darren Schmidt, which was issued from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

The EERC’s ultimate goal is to work in partnership with clients in industry and government to develop, refine, demonstrate, and commercialize marketable technologies that provide practical solutions to real-world problems. When a process or equipment (a technology) is novel and useful, the EERC/UND and the researchers transfer rights in that technology to the EERC Foundation, which in turn facilitates technology commercialization activities. The Foundation’s role is to house EERC-developed technologies, develop methods of protecting those technologies (patents, copyrights, etc.), promote business relationships with strategic commercial partners, and facilitate the formation of spin-off companies that will commercialize EERC-developed technologies. The Foundation is a nonprofit corporation led by an independent Board of Directors that does not report to the EERC or UND. Revenues from commercialized technology support the Foundation’s commercialization efforts, reward the technology inventors, and are invested in valuable projects under development at the EERC. EERC inventors share 30% of net income earned from royalties.

The average time it takes from patent application to issued patent is 34 months, according to EERC Intellectual Property Management Project Manager Jim Duzan, but it can take significantly longer because of the backlog at USPTO. For example, the patent application for “Process of Regenerating a Spent Sorbent” was first submitted in 2005, and the patent was just received in May of 2012.

In terms of patents, Olson has been more prolific than any other EERC researcher, having been granted seven U.S. and three foreign patents, with pending applications for six U.S. and 13 foreign patents filed. Olson, who retired June 1, said he had lost count of how many patents he’s applied for and been granted over the years. Make no mistake, though; he’s still excited about every patent—no matter where it is in the process.

“When I received my first patent, I was thrilled, of course, but my goal was to get a patent out that was actually used by industry—something that would be a benefit to commerce and to people, such as a process that’s used in a factory,” said Olson. “I still feel that way today.”

“We’re extremely proud of our staff; EERC researchers excel at creative problem solving. USPTO, industry, and the world as a whole continue to recognize EERC contributions to unique and valuable intellectual property,” said Tom Erickson, Associate Director for Business, Operations, and Intellectual Property.