FAQ - Patents

  1. What is an invention?
  2. Who should I report the invention/creation to?
  3. When should I report the invention?
  4. Who is an inventor?
  5. What is a patent?
  6. What are the requirements of a patent?
  7. How long is the patent protection term?
  8. What is a public disclosure?
  9. What is the enabling part of the information?
  10. How does the public disclosure impact the patent rights?
  11. What is a confidential disclosure?

1. What is an invention?

An invention encompasses a new idea for a useful application in the society, new materials, new use of existing materials, a new design, a new process, a new machine, a new article of manufacture, a new asexually propagated plant, or improvements to existing plants, materials, process, designs or machines.

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2. Who should I report the invention/creation to?

You should disclose the creation and/or invention to the Office of Research, Innovation and Economic Development.  That office will work with you to process your disclosure.

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3. When should I report the invention?
As soon as you think that you have an invention, you should complete the invention disclosure form and submit it to the Research, Innovation and Economic Development . You may call the Office of Technology Transfer to discuss and/or seek assistance in completing the form.

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4. Who is an inventor?

Whoever conceives the idea and reduces it to practice is an inventor.

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5. What is a patent?

It is a legal ownership right granted by the U.S. government (or other governments if application filed in other countries) to the inventor to exclude others from making, using and selling said invention.

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6. What are the requirements of a patent?

It must be:
Novel: Different than what is taught by prior art
Non-obvious: Not be obvious to a person with ordinary skills in the art.
Useful: Has some usefulness to the society

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7. How long is the patent protection term?

20 years from the time an application is filed.

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8. What is a public disclosure?

Any disclosure to the general public through publication, e-mail, published grant proposals, poster presentations, oral presentations at conferences, at the University, to companies, web pages, offer for sale and demonstrations constitute public disclosure. It is recommended that a legal mechanism for protection be implemented before any disclosure. There are several mechanisms that can be implemented without any significant delay in publication. 

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9. What is the enabling part of the information?

Any information related to the design, data, drawings, concepts, materials, or any other critical information that describes how an invention is constructed or how it functions.

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10. How does the public disclosure impact the patent rights?

Any public disclosure will bar the inventor from any patent rights in most of the countries. In the U.S. there is one-year grace period; however, it is highly discouraged.

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11. What is a confidential disclosure?
The commercialization of intellectual property requires implementation of legal protection to create barriers for competition. Prior to any legal protection, if the disclosure of the PI is needed, then it must be protected by executing a confidentiality agreement (also known as Non-disclosure Agreement – NDA).

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