Technology Transfer Basics
What is the role of the Office of Technology Transfer?
The Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) is one resource for facilitating the transfer of academic knowledge and discovery to the public. Typically, OTT evaluates new inventions, explores options for establishing intellectual property protection, and seeks to license ECU inventions to interested industry partners. Other forms of exchange include professional collaborations, conference presentations, student education, industry partnerships, and more.
What assistance and resources are available from OTT?
OTT specialists can assist inventors with the development and protection of new discoveries by identifying commercial partners, providing proof-of-concept funding, and conducting patent searches and market analyses.
Why should I disclose my idea to OTT?
Disclosing your invention is an important step in the protection of your discovery and can lead to early collaboration with external commercial partners. Additionally, if government funds were used to conduct the research, a prompt disclosure to ECU must be filed which will be reported to the funding sponsor. Also, as a condition of employment or enrollment with ECU, employees and students have a duty to disclose inventions conceived, or conceived and reduced to practice, that have used university resources.
How do I know if my discovery is an invention?
Useful inventions typically have commercial potential or address a market or technical need. Contact OTT for assistance in determining whether your discovery fills a market or technical void.
When should I disclose my idea to OTT?
Contact OTT as soon as you believe you have a new and useful discovery, preferably prior to making a public presentation of your invention through publication of manuscripts, abstracts, posters, conference proceedings, funded grants or other communications. Premature public disclosure may have negative consequences on future patent filings, particularly in many foreign nations.
What is an invention pre-disclosure and an invention disclosure?
An invention pre-disclosure is an informal discussion with OTT staff about your invention and the conditions of its discovery. A pre-disclosure conversation will allow OTT to provide perform a patentability and market analysis, and provide guidance on the formal disclosure process. A formal invention disclosure requires submission of a Report of Invention to OTT and is followed by review from the University Committee on Intellectual Property / Patents.
What is a Report of Invention?
A Report of Invention (ROI) is a written disclosure to OTT that formally describes the invention and other relevant information. An ROI is required prior to consideration of an invention by the ECU Patent Committee.
I have a good idea, but I don’t have data or a prototype. Should I still disclose the idea?OTT encourages inventors to engage in a pre-disclosure discussion at any point during conception for guidance, but providing evidence in the form of data or a prototype will strengthen the Patent Committee's review of the invention.
Should I disclose research tools such as plasmids, antibodies, cell lines, mice, etc.?
Yes, especially if these tools would benefit other researchers and third parties. Most research tools do not necessarily need to be protected by patents in order to be licensed to commercial parties. If you have research tools that you believe others would benefit from, then we will work with you to develop a licensing and distribution strategy.
If I jointly conceive an idea with a collaborator from another institution or company, what happens to the invention?
All individuals who contribute to conception of a patentable invention are inventors, regardless of where their employment or allegiances reside. However, ownership and licensing of an invention can depend on other factors such as written collaboration agreements between ECU and your collaborator's employer. Typically joint inventorship between inventors from different academic institutions and/or industry partners is easily handled with written inter-organizational agreements.