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Technology Transfer Basics


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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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 ECU's Patent Committee.

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. 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. 

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.

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.