Check out the June 1, 2003 New York Times article "Netflix's Patent May Reshape DVD-Rental Market."
Let's say Carlos decides to go to graduate school. It's time to file his dissertation which is based on a new revolutionary drug that he developed over the last 7 years as a graduate student. Can Carlos get a patent on his new drug and if so, does filing his dissertation have any effect on his chances of getting a patent?
"Yes, Carlos can apply for a patent on his new drug. And filing his dissertation or thesis does not affect his patent application or vice versa. What Carlos needs to do is restrict public access to his manuscript while he applies for the patent. When Carlos comes to file his thesis or dissertation in the University Archives Office, he can request that his manuscript not be sent to the library for cataloging until he has finished filing his patent claim with the Patents Office. Carlos should also restrict public access to the microfilm or online version of his dissertation. He should direct ProQuest/UMI to refrain from selling copies of his dissertation to the public at large and to block the online version of his manuscript so that it cannot be downloaded for as long as his patent application is being processed."
Jenkins, Julianna. "Re: For Your Reading Pleasure." E-mail to Sharon Farb. 15 July 2003.
Carlos is surrounded by patented things everyday. For instance, his Smartphone (e.g. iPhone, Blackberry, etc.) that he relies on so much, that's patented. The Seneca variety of strawberries that Carlos ate with his cereal this morning was patented in 1993. The technology that Netflix's uses to keep DVDs rolling to Carlos is also patented.