What is a Patent Plaque?

James Carew

A patent plaque is a way of displaying a patent acknowledgment letter once it has been received from the patent office. It is used by inventors and companies to display recognition of their intellectual property. The patent plaque is usually a glass case surrounded by a frame made of any of a variety of materials. In the case is kept the patent acknowledgment letter, which details the inventor or company name, the patent number and title, the issue date and sometimes a brief description of the invention. A patent plaque isn't actually required for a patent, so the purpose of the plaque is largely ornamental.

Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

The most common materials used to make a patent plaque are a selection of woods, metals and artificial materials. Walnut wood is used to make bold, classic-looking frames for patent plaques, often displaying the acknowledgment letter on top of a colored felt fabric to give the plaque a traditional appearance. For more up-market customers, the plaque can be made with a gold or silver plate upon which the patent is mounted, with a layer of glass over the top to protect it from the elements. Acrylic also has been used to provide a more modern-looking patent plaque.

Beyond the standard methods of mounting a patent plaque, there also is the option to have the patent engraved or etched onto a material in lieu of using the actual patent acknowledgment letter. To engrave a patent plaque, crafting companies use a laser to cut the patent onto slates of material such as marble, gold, silver or steel, among others. Similarly, etchers cut the patent into the material by hand, should the customer desire it. Both of these methods are more expensive and time consuming than simply mounting the acknowledgment letter within a frame.

The patent plaque can made to individual standards, and many companies offer a full customization package. This allows customers to define exactly how they would like their patent plaque to appear, and how they would like it to read. For example, inventors of detailed mechanical machines have the option of having their design etched onto a plaque to provide an element of uniqueness to each patent they own. Patent plaques aren't a part of the legal process of applying for a patent, so the potential for plaque customization is entirely dependent on the customer. This allows for a variety of materials and styles as well as having multiple patents on a single plaque if desired.

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