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Ideas and inventions

My ideas, my rights

UOIT's Intellectual Policy (IP) is an inventor-owned policy, which means you own your intellectual property. It is critical to understand that this is not a professor-owned policy. Students and post-doctoral fellows have precisely the same rights as their supervisors when they make a creative contribution to any invention or other IP. If the students are simply following explicit directions, they accrue no ownership rights. But as soon as they suggest, "What if we did this instead of that?" and it works, they are a co-owner of the IP — even if the professor defined the entire context of the rest of the project and provided all the funding and equipment. Inventors can negotiate among themselves if they agree that one inventor contributed more relative to others.

There are two scenarios open to you and your IP, should you be interested in commercializing it:

  • You and your co-inventors are free to commercialize it at your own cost, in any way you see fit. In this instance, any revenue earned from your invention is split with the university as follows: 75 per cent for the inventor(s) and 25 per cent for UOIT.
  • You can offer the legal rights of the IP to UOIT. The Office of Research Services (ORS) will evaluate the technology, and if we feel we can help bring it to market, we will assume all the costs of commercialization and will work diligently to commercialize the invention for the benefit of the inventors and the university. Any revenue (after recovery of patent costs, etc.) is split between the university and the inventor(s) on a negotiated basis, usually 50/50.

For a more information, contact ORS or refer to UOIT's Intellectual Property Policy.

Publishing and patenting — let's do both!

The most common misconception about patenting one's work is that patenting prevents publication. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal or presentation at a conference is the primary means by which university research is publicly shared. Publication also plays a huge role in establishing the reputation of a researcher, earning tenure and attracting more research funding.

The confusion stems from the apparent contradiction between publicly presenting one's work, which is an open process, and keeping it under wraps until a patent is filed. The path to publication or presentation can often take many months. A thorough patent assessment and the filing of a full application can be done in a few weeks. If need be, a provisional patent application can even be filed in a few days! Keeping these two timelines in mind, it is easy to take both the publication route and the patenting route.

To fully maximize the impact of new research, the current paradigm is to file patents simultaneously with publishing papers.

What if I've already published my paper or presented at a conference?

In Canada and the U.S., there is a one-year grace period for filing a patent application. If work has already been disclosed through publication, for example, there is still time to file an application. This exception only applies to the U.S. and Canada. The rest of the world requires absolute novelty.

Some inventions — such as computer software — may not require patenting, and publication may not be a barrier if the full source code is still protected. In other cases, even if a general idea has been published, there may be 'tricks' the invention will need in order to work, that have not been disclosed and can still be protected.

When to talk to the ORS

Contact us when you:

  • Think you may have invented something new, whether it's a new process, material, device or widget.
  • Will soon submit something for publication.
  • Have questions or concerns about anything related to intellectual property that is yours, or from a student, a post-doctoral fellow, or a staff member who is working with you.

A preliminary discussion with the ORS will determine whethere there is indeed an invention. After this, the first step is to fill out an Intellectual Property Disclosure Form. Faculty, students and staff are obliged to report all inventions to the UOIT using this form, which is a confidential legal document that establishes your date of invention and your ownership rights based on the university's IP policy.

If you require help filling out this form, please contact us and we'll be happy to assist you.

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