Without innovation and patents, we might still be using candles or oil to light up our homes at night. On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received his historic patent that covered the principles of the incandescent lamp. This helped pave the way for the worldwide use of electric light.
While Edison was not the first inventor trying to create a useable light source, he succeeded and surpassed others in developing a practical and inexpensive light bulb. With several patents Edison helped illuminate the world. This clearly illustrates how patents can benefit society and propel research and innovation.
What is a Patent?
Article I of the US Constitution provides for patents and copyrights "...to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." When inventors create something new, they take steps to prevent others from using, selling, or recreating it without rewarding the inventor's creativity.
Patent protection is usually sought at the research and development (R&D) stage of the technology life cycle. Inventors work with R&D management and attorneys skilled in intellectual property protection to determine the scope, claim structure, and defensibility of a patent with respect to the prior art. In return for exclusive rights, the inventor must disclose sufficient information regarding the patented invention to the public to allow others to access and further develop the technology. Thus, the patent process ultimately benefits the original patent owner, competitors, and the public.
Patents, Technology, and Innovation Are Intertwined
Innovation is crucial to the development and deployment of technologies. For most companies, patents are a key component for technological implementation and protection, consistent with a strategic plan for product development that meets customer needs. Patenting is not easy – it is an expensive and lengthy process that often involves detailed examinations in multiple countries, to establish that an invention is truly novel and technically sound. This being the case, a good metric of a company's innovativeness is the number of patents it receives.
ZYGO has been granted nearly 400 US patents related to optical metrology and optics manufacturing during its 50-year history. This innovation continues, demonstrating our continuous never-ending commitment to research and innovation.
Our Most Recent Metrology Patents
We've recently received five additional US patents related to new products and capabilities in optical metrology. Links are included below to these patents for those of you who want to take a deep dive:
For real-time monitoring of the wavelength of tunable lasers used in precision positioning systems for synchrotron mirrors and optical coherence tomography.
For measuring the form and spacing of assembled planar waveguides used in augmented and mixed reality systems.
For determining the orientation of ultrafine markings on the shafts of rotary slip seals using non-contact optical methods that are increasingly common for Industry 4.0.
Digital holographic method for calibrating and adjusting laser interferometers to obtain the highest lateral resolution for the inspection of optical components during fabrication.
Multi-channel fiber-optic sensing of the position and orientation of objects with nanometer precision.
In addition to these formal recognitions of intellectual property ownership, ZYGO has many other innovations and new capabilities integrated into our products. If you'd like to learn more about how ZYGO innovation can help you, get in touch.