Protecting Intellectual Property

When it comes to the disclosure of research results, the timing and sequence of events are decisive for their protection and their future value.

The golden rule is:

If you wish to commercially exploit your research do not disclose these results to anyone before you discussed them with your Tech Transfer Office (TTO).

Protect Information

Please bear in mind that public disclosures include scientific publications, discussions with external parties which are not under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), conferences (abstracts, posters, oral presentations), postings on the web (personal websites, blogs, etc), and any other form of public announcement.
 
Contact the TTO immediately if there is an urgency to present relevant Intellectual Property (IP) externally, be it via submission of a conference abstract, as part of a meeting with an external party, or in an interview, to name but a few. Your TTO will advise on appropriate measures to protect the IP, for example by way of agreement  NDA  or by editing the content of the disclosed information.

Protect Material

Intangible IP assets can also be linked to materials. Consequently, IP can inadvertently be transferred through the distribution of these materials. Hence, if you wish to share materials with external partners (academic or industrial) please contact your TTO and we can advise if a Material Transfer Agreement ( MTA)  is necessary.

Protect Inventions

To facilitate a consistent and efficient way to manage and evaluate University IP, the TTO has established a procedure with the Invention Disclosure Form  as a key document. If after an initial meeting your TTO sees potential in the research results, it will ask you to complete an IDF which captures all the key information it needs to further evaluate the IP. All the details requested therein are absolutely necessary to assess the protectability of the IP as well as to gain a first insight into its commercial potential. Hence, please fill in all the requested information as accurately and as completely as possible and contact the TTO if you need further guidance.
 
The main criteria to pursue IP protection are (i) the protectability of the IP, for example by way of patent protection, and (ii) the potential of the IP to be gainfully transferred, e.g. by way of licence agreement, within a reasonable time period. For further information on the evaluation procedure please consult the brochure“From Project to Licenceor contact your TTO.

Laboratory notebooks

Independent of your field of work and if you are interested in your IP you should keep systematically laboratory notebooks in which you keep track of your work. These books should be written with permanent pens (no pencil), be dated for each entry, and be regularly signed by a third party, normally your supervisor. Each entry should identify the project to which the work relates. With a diligently maintained lab notebook it will be much easier to prove the creation of your IP, including the date. It is advisable to keep a separate Laboratory Book for IP sensitive projects.

Paper laboratory notebooks are still very widely used, as electronic means need to comply with certain criteria to ensure that they cannot be tempered with. Obviously, you can print your electronic documents, date and sign them and store them in a specific non-public and safe place.