Intellectual Property (FAQs)

1. What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property specifically refers to an idea of a created work that is the product of the mind and intellect. Documented ideas can be protected by law once it has gained approval for intellectual property protection.

Intellectual property is generally reflected through the four distinct kinds of legal protection: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Each kind of intellectual property protection has its own due filing and application procedure, including standard processes and essential requirements due prior to approval of entitlement.

Technically, IP can take the form of any new and useful process, machine, composition of matter, life form, article of manufacture, software, trademark, copyrighted work, or tangible research property. Examples include new or improved devices, circuits, chemical compounds, drugs, genetically engineered biological organisms, antibodies, clones, cell lines, data sets, software, web-based tools, musical processes, or unique and novel uses of existing inventions.

2. What is Intellectual Property Right?

Intellectual Property Right (IPR) is a legal entitlement granted to an invention resulting from an expressed form of an idea, or an intangible asset. An IPR grants its holder exclusive rights to exercise use of Intellectual Property (IP) claims. These IP claims go through comprehensive screening with well-supported documentation provided. Once deemed credible and worthy, an application shall be granted IP approval from the authorized Intellectual Property Office.

3. What is Technology Transfer?

Technology transfer is the formal process of systematically transferring intellectual property rights to another party. This transfer of rights enables the receiving party to legally use and commercialize new discoveries and innovations protected by intellectual property resulting from scientific research.

Technology transfer can be successfully accomplished through the protection of intellectual property (patents and copyrights, trade/service marks, plant variety certificates, etc). It can used for licensing new innovations and exploring opportunities in the field of commercialization. It is highly relevant to protect IP rights prior to Technology transfer.

Major steps in the Technology Transfer process include the disclosure of research innovations to the University/Technology Transfer Office, patenting the innovation concurrent with or prior to publication of scientific research, and licensing rights to innovations to industry for further development or commercialization.

4. What is a Patent?

A patent is the grant of a property right to the inventor(s). A patent right is "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling" the invention or "importing" the invention in the country where it was issued.

5. How can I apply for Intellectual Property – Patent Protection?

A patent is the grant of a property right to the inventor(s). A patent right is "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling" the invention or "importing" the invention in the country where it was issued.

  1. Documenting a new idea by filing an invention disclosure (aka record of conception of invention)
  2. Properly recording data in a legally acceptable form using a lab notebook.
  3. Protecting Intellectual Property by guarding against inappropriate public disclosure. Patent applications don't confer any rights to exclusivity. Only patents do, and then only for the allowed claims at the end of the patent.

Inventions that are eligible to hold patent protection rights must exemplify the three characteristics:

  1. New or Novel: The invention must be demonstrably different from publicly available ideas, inventions, or products.
  2. Useful: The invention must have an application, benefit, utility or be an improvement over existing products and/or techniques.
  3. Non-Obvious: The invention cannot be obvious to a person skilled in the art.

6. What constitutes a "public disclosure"?

Public disclosure is any transfer of information about an invention, written or oral, into the public domain or to any party not obligated to keep the information confidential. If it is "enabling," a public disclosure immediately bars one from obtaining foreign patent protection and starts a one-year grace period from the date of the disclosure for U.S. patent applications.

An "enabling" public disclosure is one wherein the work is described in sufficient detail such that one of "ordinary skill in the art" could reproduce the invention without undue experimentation. Therefore, not all public disclosures are enabling and all do not necessarily bar one immediately from obtaining foreign patent protection. However, it is always best to contact the TTO to put a Non- Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in place prior to any discussions concerning your research with parties outside the University. Many companies are not interested in licensing inventions for which no foreign patent protection is available.

Summary of common public disclosures:
  • Oral presentation
  • Poster presentation
  • Abstract publication available to scientific public or meeting attendees either in print or online
  • Manuscript publication including online publications prior to the journal's hardcopy release
  • Thesis submission to a library or outside source
  • Thesis publication
  • Broadcast and press releases
  • Web posting
  • Information discussed in a non-confidential setting

If there is uncertainty to what kind of disclosure will be considered an enabling public disclosure, please contact the Technology Transfer Office (TTO).

7. Why should I participate in technology transfer?

Promising research programs and projects are supported by government-funding agencies. Maximum return for its investment in research, through publication of results, sharing of expertise, and transfer of technologies to companies for commercialization is highly productive and sustainable for the country's sake. There is a fulfilling satisfaction in seeing research efforts translate into positive outcomes with practical benefits to society. Contributions toward promoting development for improving standard applications and participation in research demands unity in purpose and enhanced collaborations.

8. What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), also known as a "Confidentiality Agreement" or "Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA)," is an agreement whereby one party agrees to hold the proprietary technical and/or business information of the other party in confidence. NDAs are a standard tool of the trade and many companies are amenable to having access to a technology under the terms of this type of agreement.