Chemistry expert witness Edward Funk, Ph. D., presented this short course to senior level chemical engineers on patents:
Scientists and engineers are taught to maintain laboratory notebooks as an important first step in the invention process. They know, but often don’t follow carefully, the rules of including a reasonable description of an experiment and the data, an idea with a diagram, or a possible new process or device. The lab book usually has some coffee stains that give some authenticity. The book is signed by a colleague who usually signs about 100 pages with a single date. More on this later, but this is the beginning, even if somewhat flawed, beginning of the invention process.
At a certain point, the scientist may decide to submit a “memo of invention” (MOI). This is the basic request to have a patent application filed. The form of this is quite different from company to company but the purpose is the same. Most companies have a patent committee of technical people, and at times a patent attorney and business people, who rate the MOI’s. Typically the rating is 1 to 5, with 5 being for important cases for immediate attention. The rating of 1 usually means “no interest to the company”-release to the inventor. Some MOIs are not rated for various political or technical reasons, and are held for review at the next meeting.