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The American Founders included Patent Rights in the United States Constitution to Promote Progress.
March 2014:  Quarterly Report of U.S. Patenting
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Figure taken from US 8,650,819, issued on February 18, 2014
       The United States issued a little over 400 total patents in its patent classes having significant civil engineering subject matter between November 26, 2013, and February 18, 2014, based on numbers made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Slightly less than half of those issued patents, totaling about 190 issued patents, apparently claim subject matter that many civil engineers would probably consider as true "civil engineering" inventions, as opposed to inventions only loosely related to the field (e.g., shingles, doors, dock levelers, and windows).  The summary below divides this group of about 190 patents issued over the past few months into four groups (structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, bridge engineering, and hydraulic engineering), and discusses each group in turn. 
Structural Engineering

     The USPTO issued a little over 150 patents on inventions that civil engineers would likely classify as structural engineering subject matter.  The majority of these structural engineering inventions involved modular structures, structural panels, structural members and frames, structural connectors, reinforcement systems, anchor systems, and support structures for buildings. 

     The most prolific patentees over the past few months included product supplier MiTek, construction materials manufacturer USG Corporation, and steel framing company CEMCO.  Some other leading patentees this quarter in structural engineering included BlueScope Buildings, Worthington Armstrong Venture, aircraft giant Boeing, Simpson Strong-Tie, OldCastle, and JamesHardie.  The University of Maine received a patent this quarter in this area, after having also received a patent in structural engineering last quarter as well.

     Some recent structural engineering patents include numerous inventions of new structural members and systems.  For example, US 8,613,172 discloses a composite panel including prestressed concrete, US 8,621,797 sets forth a steel structure including prestressing brackets, and US 8,650,819 claims a prestressing process for constructing precast concrete beams.      

      Innovations in structural engineering patented over the past few months also include a number of advances related to concrete wall technologies.  For example, US 8,590,242 describes a novel method for insulating a concrete wall, US 8,590,259 discloses a method for straightening walls of a foundation, and US 8,627,629 claims an innovative assembly for constructing a concrete wall.

      The USPTO issued several patents for new anchoring and connecting systems during the past few months.  For example, US 8,590,255 illustrates a new type of building connection, US 8,596,010 claims an innovative wall anchor, and US 8,607,519 discloses a fire resistive joint cover system.           

      Some new inventions related to damping and seismic technologies recently received patents.  For example, US 8,590,220 claims a metal joint having a damping structure, US 8,615,948 describes a seismic brace for a ceiling, and US 8,621,791 discloses a novel damping system.
Geotechnical Engineering

     The USPTO issued almost 25 patents claiming inventions that civil engineers would probably classify as geotechnical engineering subject matter.  Many of these inventions involved piling systems and foundation structures.  The leading patent filer during the past few months in this area was Vist-A-Wall (formerly T&B Structural Systems).  Some other leading patent filers during the past quarter included Heli-Crete and Simpson Strong-Tie.     

     Examples of geotechnical inventions patented during the past few months include US 8,602,689, directed to a reinforced concrete piling, US 8,627,615, claiming a forming system for foundation footings, and US 8,632,279, disclosing a splice for a mechanically stabilized earth structure.

    Inventors from two university civil engineering departments also received patents for geotechnical engineering subject matter.  The University of Florida received
US 8,596,922 for a method of securing foundation members, and the University of Washington received US 8,622,658 for a method of pile driving that minimizes noise transmission.

Bridge Engineering

     The USPTO issued almost 10 patents over the past few months in areas that civil engineers would likely view as bridge engineering.  Inventions patented this quarter in this area include US 8,595,879, which describes a bridge beam placement system, US 8,650,691, setting forth a strand guiding device, and US 8,590,084, claiming a moment-resisting joint.                    

Hydraulic Engineering

     Hydraulic engineering inventions over the past few months involved technologies related to civil engineering, such as erosion mitigation, ocean wave barriers, and offshore drilling concepts.  An exemplary invention in this area patented during the last few months includes US 8,651,770, claiming an erosion control apparatus.   
U.S. Civil Engineering Patenting:  November 2013 to February 2014