University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Disclosing an Invention

Notify the Technology Transfer Office

All researchers with potentially commercializable research results, including faculty, staff, students and laboratory personnel, should fill out a confidential Invention Disclosure form and submit it to the Technology Transfer Office for review OR JUST SEND US YOUR MANUSCRIPT AND WE'LL DO THE REST! The Invention Disclosure form asks for the names of all inventors, a brief description of the invention, funding sources, and potential commercial applications of the technology. Please note that all UMass inventors listed on the Invention Disclosure must have a signed Participation Agreement on file. (To download individual forms, go to Forms and Policies.)

When to File an Invention Disclosure

Whenever you have research results that may have a commercial potential as a therapeutic agent, diagnostic tool, a research reagent, a device, a potential therapeutic target or a medical/laboratory procedure, it is recommended that you submit an Invention Disclosure form to the Technology Transfer Office or contact us at (413) 545-3606 or at tto@umass.edu for consultation. Since any premature public disclosure will negatively impact the ability to obtain a patent, the submittal of an Invention Disclosure should precede any publication or oral presentation that describes the invention. Sharing the data with colleagues or posting an abstract on the Internet are examples of public disclosure that need to be prevented if the invention might be patentable. In no case should outside entities be informed of an invention prior to notifying the Tech Transfer office. Your invention can be protected with a Confidential Disclosure Agreement between the University and the off-campus institution.

After an Invention Disclosure Is Submitted

Once a researcher has submitted an Invention Disclosure form to the Technology Transfer Office, it is reviewed by the assigned case manager.  The disclosure is then submitted to the system-wide Technology Transfer Case Managers for discussion and guidance.

If the Technology Transfer Office determines that the University should file for a patent, the Invention Disclosure is sent to our patent counsel who prepares the patent application. Some of your time is required during the preparation stage of the patent application, but you can minimize this if you have a manuscript available. The Technology Transfer Office manages the patent prosecution process from the filing of a patent application to the issuance of the patent (a process that may take three-to-five years).

As a first step to commercializing the invention, the Technology Transfer Office devises licensing strategies including financial goals for the University, and creates a profile of strong potential licensees including those industry contacts recommended by investigators. Since these industry contacts are familiar with the investigator’s research, these contacts are often instrumental in getting the technology to market. We then identify and contact one or more appropriate for-profit companies to determine their interest and ability to commercialize the technology. Your assistance is very valuable during this effort, and we will keep you informed of all developments. The Technology Transfer Office has primary responsibility to draft agreements, conduct negotiations and execute final agreements.

Why File a Disclosure?

There are several excellent reasons to file an Invention Disclosure form, which include:

  • The terms of your grant, whether from the government or a private source, may include the requirement that efforts be made to commercialize valuable inventions.
  • Commercial agreements could become a significant source of research funding for your laboratory.
  • Individual researchers and their departments receive a share of revenues derived from licensing agreements.
  • Intellectual property developed at UMass Amherst, using UMass Amherst resources, belongs to the University. We all have an obligation to protect University property, whether tangible or intellectual.

Public Disclosure

Faculty are often called upon to give talks on campus, at other institutions, at meetings, and at companies. Topics typically contain information about ongoing research or early stage concepts, for which research has not begun. When improperly disclosed, such information is considered to have entered the public domain and therefore may not be patentable. If you make a presentation on work that is, or could be, the subject of a patent and may be a potentially commercializable invention, we strongly urge you to consult with us beforehand. We can advise you on how to best protect your work, which may ultimately be a source of revenue for you and your laboratory.

Remember the following points:

  • Public disclosure prior to filing a patent can bar the work from being patented in the U.S. or abroad.
  • Submittal of papers to refereed journals is not public disclosure and will not affect the ability to patent an invention, as long as it is not published or circulated outside of the journal reviewers.
  • Once a patent application is filed, you are free to discuss the work, but limit such discussions to the areas covered by the patent application.
  • The use of a Confidential Disclosure Agreement is widely accepted and protects you from loss of intellectual property rights.

If you have any questions, please contact the Technology Transfer Office at (413) 545-3606 or at tto@umass.edu