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My great grandfather invented several jacks IE: lift jack, screw jack, etc. He worked for the Buda company in Illinois at the time. Their agreement was my gr.grandfather would receive the royalties for five years and then the royalties would go to Buda company. Some time after my gr.grandfather passed away, the Buda company went out of business. From what I understand the patents would then be returned to the original owner, my gr. grandfather. I actually have the book of his patents. But nobody ever turned anything back over when the company shut down. So, who owns the patents? Me, because I have the book of them? Someone else? Why did the royalties not return to our family after Buda shut down? It's like it all disappeared when the Buda Co closed.

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    If those patents are from more than 20 years ago, they will have expired and would have no financial value. If you can provide the patent numbers, we can check if they've expired.
    – Eric S
    Jun 1 '17 at 17:41
  • Joanna, I tried to answer you question. I'm an engineer and inventor, so if you could provide the patent numbers or even your great grandfather's name, I could review the patents and maybe provide some additional insight.
    – Eric S
    Jun 2 '17 at 16:29
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According to Wikipedia, the Buda Engine Co. was founded in 1881 in Buda, Illinois. Buda seems to have been involved very early in the automotive industry. Rather than going out of business, it was acquired by Allis-Chalmers in 1953. When a company is purchased by another company, typically all the assets are acquired including intellectual property such as trademarks, trade secrets and patents. Unless the terms of ownership of the patents were defined in a specific contract, I don't think their ownership would necessarily revert to your grandfather rather than being held by Allis-Chalmers.

In any case, based on your question, the patents must have be issued at least 5 years prior to 1953 which means they would have an expiration date 17 years after their grant date. This is part of the basic idea of patents. The government wants to encourage individuals and companies to spend the time, money and effort developing new technologies. In return for a public description of how the invention works, it grants the owner of the patent a limited duration of exclusivity after which, anyone else can use the invention without license. Thus, even if the patents all issued in 1953 (and they likely were much earlier) the latest anyone would have to pay royalties on them would have been 1970.

The bottom line is that the patents probably expired more than 50 years ago and thus the potential for royalties. At this point the patents have no commercial value. It is possible that the patent documentation you posses could have some collector value especially considering they may be automotive related.

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