Your source for expert commentary on IP management issues.
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Editor-in-Chief, Anatole Krattiger
Why This Topic Is Important
This section approaches questions of inventorship and how to document and disclose inventions in order
to support applications for intellectual property protection. Institutions need clear policies on laboratory
record keeping, disclosure of inventions, and rights of inventors. This section may be helpful in educating
scientists at your institution about issues of intellectual property.
Key Implications and Best Practices: Section 8
- Arguably, the minds of scientists operate differently from those of bankers, politicians, and licensing executives. Similarly, those engaged in managing intellectual property in public sector institutions face different challenges than do scientist-inventors. The differences can be a source of much tension, but such tension can be preempted if scientists are given an opportunity to learn the basics of IP management, including best practices, in terms of data and information management related to inventions. Public sector institutions and companies alike should offer and require limited, but essential, training to every scientist, student researcher, and technician when he or she joins a research program.
- Such training programs can be provided as a series of short seminars or even half-day orientation courses. And they are most effective if the institutions have clear IP policies that include matters related to ownership of inventions, the duty to disclose inventions, and laboratory notebook keeping. The latter is common practice in any private sector R&D center. Comprehensive research records are fundamental to good research practices in science, IP management, and regulatory areas.
- University faculty, staff, and students do not have to become patenting experts. Keep any such training programs simple and practice oriented. Generally, the intricacies of patenting legislation is not what motivates a scientist; rather, it is a vision of how his or her invention can eventually make a difference in people’s lives. The IP management training programs should thus be practical and offered by technology transfer personnel that will be interacting with scientists rather than by lawyers. Contractors can be useful as facilitators. Part of the aim of such training is team building that encourages communication between your office and the scientists in your institution. It is part of creating a culture of IP awareness.
- It is good practice to include senior management as participants in the training sessions. This is especially useful when the training program includes case studies.
- Prepare simple brochures and Web sites that encourage scientists to contact you with their questions and inventions. Similarly, make an effort to attend seminars given by the researchers in your organization. It is a great way to show your interest in their activities and to build a good understanding of what the researchers actually do. Overall it helps to get scientists involved in all phases of protecting and marketing their inventions.
Documentation of Inventions
by W. Mark Crowell
How to Start–and Keep–a Laboratory Notebook: Policy and Practical Guidelines
by Jennifer A. Thomson
Invention Disclosures and the Role of Inventors
by David R. McGee