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82 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2021 Innovation is the lifeblood of technological progress. It has been the driving force in elec- tronics for over a century. In general, intellec- tual property (IP) refers to innovations, those creations of the human mind. is includes everything from physical inventions to com- puter programs to trademarks and, as well, to trade secrets. But it also includes works of art and music which are commonly protected by copyrights. If one has high interest in physical innova- tions related to electronics, one of the best places to explore and discover it is at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) web- site. Using the Boolean search tools the patent office provides there, it is possible to find any- thing they have in their huge database of mil- lions of patents. Because patents tend to pre- cede actual products, the USPTO's website is a great place to get a glimpse of the wonderful things that might be lying in the road ahead. ey have information not just on issued pat- ents but also many patents which are pending in the published applications section. Follow- ing are some thoughts and observations on the important matter of intellectual property and patents. Why Patents? e patent system is arguably among the most important gis that the Founding Fathers of the United States le us with. Its foundation Intellectual Property— How It Works for the Benefit of All Flexible Thinking by Joe Fjelstad, VERDANT ELECTRONICS

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