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Guide for Inventors

You believe you've come up with a new invention. It's new, it's exciting... now what? Before you publish a paper, present a poster, or yell from the nearest roof-top, contact our office. Here's a step-by-step guide for inventors:

Initial Steps

  1. Make sure you really invented something new. Check the journal publications in your field. You should also search patent publications. See our Prior Art section below for resources.
  2. Think about who would want to buy your invention. OTC does its own research, but if you already have specific applications in mind for your invention or have contacts at companies that might be interested, be sure to let us know.
  3. Fill out an Invention Disclosure Form and submit it to OTC via e-mail, fax, or inter-campus mail. The work you did in Steps 1 and 2 will help you complete the form. If you have any questions about how to fill out the form, please don't hesitate to contact us.
  4. Be ready to answer lots of questions. Shortly after you submit the invention disclosure form, you will get contacted by the case manager assigned to your invention. They will interview you to ensure they have a strong understanding of the invention. They will prepare a summary to be presented to the University system-wide case managers meeting to solicit feedback. If it is decided to move forward with your invention, you will be interviewed by patent counsel to prepare an application. As the invention is marketed to companies for licensing, you may be asked to attend meetings to answer company questions about your invention as well. We appreciate the time you take to answer all of these questions!

What happens to Your Invention Disclosure at OTC

At OTC we are committed in providing timely and quality service for faculty, staff and prospective licensees of University inventions.When an Investigator discloses a technology to OTC, the Disclosure is assigned a Docket number and a case manager from OTC. The case manager is the advocate for the technology, managing the life cycle of the technology from patent prosecution assessment to identifying a commercialization path, and developing business opportunities, with the overall objective of licensing the technology. Criteria used in determining whether to file a patent application:

  • Patent Validation: The invention must be new and non-obvious over existing technology in order for it to be patentable. The technology can not be publicly disclosed before filing a patent application. If it is, then patent rights are lost in a majority of the world.
  • Market Validation: The disclosed technology has the potential to become commercially viable.This includes understanding of the problem that the technology addresses, the competitive landscape and the attributes that make the new technology compelling
  • Technology Validation: The technology has reached a reasonable maturity level (e.g., proof of concept and/or prototype). In addition, a preliminary search of prior art is conducted to evaluate the novelty of the technology.

In general, the decision to file a patent application is made within 90 days or receiving a disclosure. An additional 90 days may be needed to complete the application. This timeline may vary depending on the collaboration of the faculty/staff and their response time for the patent review, and the schedules and the availability of the law firms.

Invention Disclosure Forms

Prior Art and Patent Searches

As the inventor, you are in the best position to understand how your invention is novel and non-obvious from the prior art. You should search journals and publications relevant to your field to determine if your invention is new. Many of these can be accessed through university library subscription. Google Scholar can also be helpful. You should also do a keyword search of patents and published patent applications.

U.S. Patents and Published Applications:

International Patents and Applications: