Adam Weaver at Zucrow Laboratories, Purdue University.

It is important for Purdue innovators to disclose their intellectual property (IP) as soon as possible to the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) professionals in order to protect the IP. Such early disclosure is now particularly important since the enacting of the America Invents Act of 2012 and that Act’s “First Inventor to File or Publish” provisions essentially means the first inventor to file a patent application may be entitled to a patent. Purdue policy I.A.1 states that “[i]nventors shall promptly in writing disclose and assign each Invention to the University.” OTC is established to receive invention disclosures and subsequently manage the process of technology commercialization. OTC works with Purdue-originated inventions in which Purdue Research Foundation, on behalf of the University, confirms ownership.

Technology Disclosure Form For Inventions

Inventors disclose technologies to OTC by completing a Technology Disclosure Form. Receipt of the completed Technology Disclosure Form sets OTC’s internal technology assessment in motion. The form is intended for inventions that are potentially patentable and is completed in a three-part process.

First, information describing the invention, to the fullest extent possible at the time of submission, is provided by a Purdue inventor(s). This first step can be thought of as the answer to “what is the invention?” Upon submission, an internal reference number is assigned to the invention which is used throughout its life by OTC – at which point an IP manager is assigned to the invention. A written acknowledgement is sent to the inventor(s), confirming receipt of the Technology Disclosure Form and detailing the next steps in the process.

Second, the IP manager reviews detailed data, results, diagrams, graphs, and information in the public domain, and may request additional information from the inventor(s) to ensure sufficiency of information and perform an analysis for patentability and commercial feasibility.

Third, each Purdue inventor is asked to execute an assignment, assigning the technology to Purdue Research Foundation on behalf of Purdue in accordance with Purdue Policy I.A.1.  

Copyright Materials or Software Disclosures

Inventions, as defined in Purdue policy I.A.1, include copyrightable material, with certain exceptions for scholarly and instructional works. Copyright protection is afforded to original works at the time the work is fixed in a tangible medium. Copyrightable materials are disclosed to OTC by completing a Copyright Disclosure Form. In the U.S., a copyrightable work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. While such registration is not necessary for protection to attach, copyright registration makes certain other damages available. Unlike patent rights, prior disclosure does not present a bar to registering a copyright.

Purdue Student Innovators

To encourage entrepreneurship among undergraduate students, the Purdue Policy I.A.1 allows students who develop an innovation as part of their coursework to own the rights to their discovery provided that the student inventor(s) made use of resources that are routinely made available by the College/Department administering the Purdue course; the relevant student(s) are not paid by Purdue, whether through internal funds or under a grant or contract with a third party; and there are no preexisting obligations for Purdue in connection with the course-generated intellectual property.

Other Disclosure Forms

Disclosures to OTC of other types of inventions within the scope of Purdue policy I.A.1 should be made using the appropriate disclosure form (also found on OTC's website). For example, open source distribution of certain copyrights, tangible research property (such as biological materials, models, prototypes and other proprietary tangible property) and plant varieties or germplasms. 

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