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Office for Innovation

Putting science into practice

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Technology transfer is the process of transitioning innovative discoveries from the laboratory to products and processes that can address real-world problems.

Putting science into practice - Technology transfer is the process of transitioning innovative discoveries from the laboratory to products and processes that can address real-world problems. Basic research results may contain protectable intellectual property (IP) that is fundamental to innovation. Protecting IP does NOT inhibit the ability to publish results in peer-reviewed journals, and it does NOT obstruct academic (non-profit) use of the IP.

 

 

Researchers that participate in tech transfer have the opportunity to:

  • Attract sponsors and generate funding opportunities
  • Impact a broad audience with research results
  • Meet the obligations of a research contract
  • Generate educational and training experiences for students & postdocs

Researchers are encouraged to submit an Invention Disclosure to notify the Penn State Office of Technology Management of all discoveries and developments that may solve a significant problem or have potential commercial value. Inventions can be disclosed when a concept is reduced to practice. Examples of inventions may include:

  • Devices, such as a new tool or scientific instrument.
  • Processes, such as a new computational technique, manufacturing method, assay or purification process.
  • Compositions, such as a new chemical/drug compound or functional protein.
  • Copyrightable works, such as educational tools and technologies or software.
  • Software, which can be copyrighted and sometimes patented.
  • Biological materials, such as a new cell line, animal model, or plant variety.
  • And more!

Invention Disclosure – General FAQs

Contact the Office for Innovation to discuss new research discoveries and receive assistance with preparing and submitting (if desired) invention disclosures. Invention disclosures are submitted to the Office of Technology Management (OTM) using the e-disclosure portal or downloadable form. Soon after your disclosure is received you will be contacted by the OTM about next steps.

Yes!! However, it is best to submit an Invention Disclosure before communicating or disclosing your discovery to people outside of Penn State since patent rights can be affected by public disclosure (e.g., publications, online arXiv, poster, conferences, discussion with industry, press releases, other communications). Once publicly disclosed, an invention may have restricted or minimal potential for patent protection. Researchers are encouraged to submit an invention disclosure for all discoveries and developments that may solve a significant problem or have potential commercial value.

Researchers should submit an Invention Disclosure whenever you have discovered something unique with possible commercial value. This should be done well before presenting the discovery to the public (e.g., publications, online arXiv, poster, conferences, discussion with industry, press releases, other communications). Once publicly disclosed, an invention may have restricted or minimal potential for patent protection.

Submit an Invention Disclosure if you have research tools that you believe have commercial value. Research tools can include materials such as antibodies, vectors, plasmids, cell lines, animal models, and other materials used as “tools” in the research process. Some research tools do not necessarily need to be protected by patents in order to be licensed to commercial third parties. Other research tools may need patent protection to attract an industry partner to invest in the development that is needed to make the process broadly useful. The Office of Technology Management will assist in developing the appropriate protection, licensing, and distribution strategy.

Yes, the Office of Technology Management assists inventors and authors in licensing software under a variety of distribution strategies. Submit an Invention Disclosure if you have software that has potential commercial value.

"Public disclosure" of an invention consists of anything that is readily available to the public (e.g., a journal article, a conference poster or presentation, a publication or preprint/arXiv on the internet, a press release, a social media post, a dissertation indexed at the library, etc.) that describes the basic ideas in enough detail that someone else would be able to make and use the invention. Showing or telling these ideas may also constitute a public disclosure, as does selling or offering for sale a prototype of the invention.

Invention Disclosure – FAQs when submitting a disclosure

An inventor is someone who contributed to the conception of the invention or to the creative further development of an important element of the invention in reducing it to practice. Inventorship is not the same as authorship, however. A "pair of hands" who only carried out the orders of another person is not an inventor, even though such a person may be considered a co-author or contributor in a scholarly sense. Inventorship has a legal definition and will be determined by a patent attorney when filing a patent application.

All contributors to the ideas leading to an invention should be included in the disclosure, even people who are not affiliated with PSU. The Office of Technology Management, along with legal counsel, will determine the rights of such persons & institutions.

The company sponsoring the research has the option to request ownership of intellectual property (IP) resulting from the sponsored project. The principal investigators are now an integral part in the process to determine if this request shall be granted. If the Penn State researchers do not agree to transfer ownership of the IP resulting from the project to the company sponsor, representatives from the Office of Sponsored Programs or the Office of Technology Management will contact the researchers to discuss the situation and propose appropriate IP terms for the research agreement. Find out more on the Penn State’s Approach to IP website.

Submit an Invention Disclosure with as much detail as possible to assist in determining the appropriate protection strategy for the invention and evaluating its licensing potential. Include details such as:

  • Description of what the invention is (can include figures).
  • Novelty/uniqueness of the invention over previous work (“prior art”) in the field
  • Usefulness of the invention – what problem does the invention solve?
  • Benefits of the invention compared to methods currently used to solve the problem
  • State of the invention’s development or reduction to practice – what/how much further development is needed in order for it to be used commercially?
  • Market segment(s) potentially interested in the invention (e.g., biomedical, information technology, materials, etc.)
  • Previous public disclosure of the invention (e.g., via publications, online arXiv, posters, conferences, discussions with industry, press releases, other communications), or upcoming plans to publicly disclose