As we enter a new semester, Assistant Director of IP Management Andy Bluvas answers some commonly asked questions from faculty inventors about IP protection.
What type of intellectual property protection is available for my research?
Forms of IP protection depend on the type of innovation. Novel inventions can be patented. Software and written works can be copyrighted. Logos and phrases can be trademarked. Plants varieties protection rights can be granted to new plant breeds. Other proprietary know-how can be maintained and protected as a trade secrets.
Can I patent my invention?
Processes, machines, articles of manufacture and compositions of matter that are useful, novel and non-obvious can be patented. Abstract ideas, laws of nature and natural phenomena cannot be patented. Software can be either patented or protected through copyright means.
Is my idea worth IP Protection?
This depends on a variety of factors including the uniqueness of the innovation, the likelihood of that a broad patent can be obtained and the degree to which the innovation solves an unmet market need. When determining whether to invest in patent protection, CURF looks beyond the legal requirements of patentability and assesses each technology on whether the is sufficient market opportunity and the likelihood that the invention will be successful in the marketplace.
When should I submit an invention disclosure?
An invention should be disclosed to CURF when the research team has sufficiently defined the invention and has reduced the invention to practice. This often occurs after the team has a working prototype and sufficient data for publication. When possible, an invention disclosure should be submitted prior to any public disclosure.
What types of public disclosures can affect my patent rights?
Public disclosure can eliminate our ability to file patents internationally and will start a 1-year time limit for filing in the US. For a public disclosure to negatively impact an inventions patentability, it must be enabling. The test for enablement is whether one reasonably skilled in the art (area of invention) could make or use the invention without undue experimentation.
Will CURF file my patent?
Submitting an invention disclosure to CURF does not always result in the filing of a patent. CURF reviews each disclosure and makes a determination on a case by case basis. Typically less than half of invention disclosures show sufficient justification to warrant a patent filing.
How long does it take to get a patent?
It can take 2-3 years from the initial filing to receive a patent. The USPTO typically will not review a patent application until 18 months after a full patent application is filed.