Q: Abandoned patent used in research
I work for a research institute and there is an abandoned patent for a lifting conveyer. I'd like to use the concept on the patent as part of my overall project. Would I be able to use it in a research setting at a university? It's not the focus of my research but simplifies an a part of the transportation. How can I use it? Is it still like using an active patent?
If the patent was abandoned more than two years ago, then the chances that the owner could revive it are pretty low, and it should be relatively safe to use. If the patent expired due to "old age," then it is also safe to use. The main risk is if the patent was recently abandoned (less than two years) due to failure to pay a maintenance fee. This is because the owner could easily come back and pay the fee to revive the patent.
Note that although patent holders usually don't bother to go after research use in a university setting, this doesn't mean that universities are exempt from patent laws.
Kevin E. Flynn agrees with this answer
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