As researchers uncover new knowledge, often times they develop novel techniques or demonstrate new and valuable applications of their results. New ideas that can be applied in useful ways can be considered new inventions, and inventions are intellectual property (IP) that can be considered for patent protection. IP includes inventions and other creative works and/or materials that may be protected under the patent, trademark and/or copyright laws.
Understanding and being mindful of intellectual property is so crucial in a research environment because:
- in the course of pure research, you may be creating inventions to solve problems and not realize it
- technologies created in faculty labs belong to the University and need to be disclosed
- inventions can be commercialized, which can lead to income and research support for the inventor(s)
There is a logical order to ideas as they take shape, coalesce into inventions and move forward to commercialization. TCS guides this process and is often the first stop for inventors and industries seeking to advance new ideas and products. TCS manages all intellectual property created at the university.
TCS will assess the invention for its commercial potential by evaluating its technical strength, market potential, patentability and strength as if issued as a patent. We will also take into consideration whether a prototype exists or proof of principle experiments are complete, as well as whether a potential commercial partner has already been identified or has expressed interest. If the invention is considered to be a reasonable risk, a patent application will be filed.
Patenting is a legal and technical process, which is overseen by TCS, but which very much involves the inventor(s) and the University’s outside patent attorneys. Specifically, the inventor(s) may be asked by the attorney to: clarify details of their invention, describe all its possible uses, differentiate the invention from related technology and describe its potential advantages, and help define what each potential inventor contributed to the creation of the invention. The inventor(s) will also be asked to review patent applications and to help respond to questions raised by the Patent Office. To be granted a patent, an invention must be novel, non-obvious, and useful.
Faculty Invention Ownership
UConn owns all inventions made by its employees while working under a grant or contract to UConn, or while using UConn resources.
U.S. patent law specifies that all inventions are owned by the inventor(s) unless the inventor(s) has transferred ownership or title to another entity. This applies to UConn. Under Connecticut law (C.G.S., Sec. 10a-110b), UConn has the right to own title to any invention conceived by university employees (including but not limited to full-time and part-time faculty, post-doctoral fellows, student employees, research assistants, visiting scientists and emeritus professors) in the performance of customary or assigned duties or which emerges from any research or other program of the university, or which is conceived or developed wholly, or partly, with the use of university funds, facilities, equipment or materials.
That is, by virtue of employment, employees of UConn are required to assign their right, title and interest in inventions to the university. Click here to review an invention ownership flowchart.
Student Contribution to an Invention
A student can even be the sole contributor or inventor. The policy for ownership of an invention developed with or by a student is the same as for any other member of UConn in circumstances where a student is participating in sponsored research at the university and the research contract addresses ownership. Procedurally, a student who believes he or she should have clear title to an invention, which is developed at the university, should contact TCS. Upon disclosure of the invention and examination of the details surrounding its development, the university may execute a waiver of rights regarding the invention to the student, or ask the student to assign his or her rights to UConn.
If you have any questions please contact us!
or call us at 860-679-3992