My grandfather Arden A. Alfvegren - patented this screen in his spare time, while working for an architecture firm. He died in 1976, nine months before I was born. I am the only grandchild in the family; my mother and her three siblings are all a bit crazy. My uncle tells me that this screen held his invention, a proto-solar panel, and that the architecture firm he worked for at the time, sued him for it, although they didn't understand the concept of solar power. I know he started his own company, called Solar-On. And he affixed prototypes of this invention in a few places around Los Angeles. How can I find out if someone still holds this patent? Or is doing anything with it? I understand patents expire within two decades of their being issued, but know nothing of patent law beyond that. Thank you kindly.

In reference to the patent: USD201045

1 Answer 1


USD201045 is a United States design patent. Design patents cover the ornamental design of functional objects. Back then, the term for design patents was 14 years from the issue date. Since May 13, 2015 the term is 15 years from the issue date. Since your grandfather's patent was issued on May 4, 1965, it would have expired May 4, 1979. It therefore has no monetary value. Although your grandfather was the inventor, it looks like it was assigned to the California Metal Enameling Company. This means your grandfather likely never "owned" the patent.

I looked at the figures in the design patent and it looks like a design for a screen that provides shade. You might consider this a "solar screen" in that it shades you from the sun, but in no way does it relate to generating power from solar radiation. It is possible your uncle was referring to a different patent. I searched both patents.google.com and www.lens.org and only found the one design patent. Practical photovoltaic cells date back at least to the 1950's. Your uncle's story like many old family stories may have "evolved" over time.


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