In the context of your research, you are naturally led to invent, create and innovate, whatever your field of research. Your work thus generates intellectual property (IP) that you must be able to master.
he ULiège - Interface Entreprises helps researchers to assess the different protection strategies available to them and to choose the most suitable one(s). The investment in IP is then carried out by the company Gesval, with the financial support of the DGO6.
Protecting intellectual property is essential!
If possible, the protection of research results with an IP title is desirable for various reasons:
- Protecting is ensuring the legal ownership of your invention. An IP title gives the right to prohibit the exploitation of the invention by a third party without your knowledge.
- Protecting means allowing others to invest in research and thus give it added value. An IP title gives the holder a monopoly of exploitation that can be transferred and valued by a company, thus guaranteeing a competitive advantage. A real asset during a negotiation!
- Protecting means allowing the socio-economic valorisation of one's invention. The protection by an IP right constitutes an advantage to enhance the value of your research work.
- Protecting is to show professionalism in your research activity. As a researcher, you strive to ensure that your research work is useful to society and that it is therefore disseminated and exploited.
- Protecting is also to inspire other research. Patents are often a source of information and inspiration for other researchers.
IP provides many ways to protect an invention: secrecy, patent, copyright, trademark, and so on. But how do you know which IP right is best suited to your project? The Interface Entreprises helps you during this step to assess the different protection strategies available to you and to opt fot the most appropriate one(s).
The right reflexes to protect your research results
Whatever the way of transfer envisaged, it is necessary to respect certain precautions:
Use a laboratory notebook
Used as a logbook, it helps the research to be carried out properly, guarantees the traceability of the experiments and avoids the loss of data, thus facilitating the transfer of technology. A well-kept logbook can constitute incontestable proof in a legal framework to testify to the achievement of results, determine an invention date or prove who the inventor is. It is the first step towards the protection of results.
Disclosure made without precaution may prevent the exploitation of the invention, or even deprive the legitimate inventor of ownership of his invention. Why ? Firstly because an idea is easily stolen, but also because a disclosure seriously compromises the patent protection or secrecy and therefore its potential for valorization. Only disclosure under a confidentiality agreement (NDA) is allowed, otherwise the secret must be maintained.
Download a NDA template. Once completed, have them proofread by the Interface!
There are many opportunities for disclosure: congresses, exhibitions, conferences, symposiums, thesis defense, meetings, laboratory visits, posters, abstracts, publications, interviews, contacts with third parties (researchers, industrialists, advisors, ...) ...
Make sure your invention is new and free-to-use
A prior art study allows us to identify technologies that compete with or complement your own. By looking at what already exists and comparing it with your results, you ensure that you are not infringing an IP right. The analysis to establish the freedom to exploit your research is only the first step. If the study reveals the existence of patent(s) limiting your freedom to operate, you will need to determine a strategy to acquire that Freedom To Operate. A first quick overview can be obtained through a bibliographic search of the scientific literature and patent databases.
Declare your invention
The invention announcement is the essential document to start a valorisation process. It gathers technical information, identifies the invention and the inventor, highlights the potential of the results and the possible possibilities of exploitation. On the basis of this document, decisions to protect or not, to maintain secrecy or to publish, to transfer the knowledge in one form or the other may be taken.
Master the publication
Although it contributes largely to the notoriety of the researcher and his laboratory, the publication is not always compatible with other modes of protection. One does not exclude the other, but it is necessary to respect the right timing, as shown in the diagram opposite. If you publish during the priority period, you can only disclose the contents of the patent application.
The Interface Entreprises - ULiège is at your service for:
- Management of Intellectual Property for ULiège and the CHU (University Hospitals)
- IP Awareness
- Assistance with NDA's writing and negotiation
- Support in the analysis of prior art searches
- Support in drafting the declaration of invention
- Assessment of the patentability of the invention
- Assessment of possible protection strategies for your invention and know-how
- Management of patent filing procedures
- Financial support for costs related to patent filing
Learn more about IP
Read the interactive electronic guide of the Réseau LIEU (Liaison Entreprises-Universités), which allows any researcher, whether a beginner or an experienced researcher, to have a global vision of the process leading to the transfer of knowledge.