The Technology Transfer process need not be mystifying.  Here are some answers for commonly asked questions.  If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us.

  • 1. What is an invention?

    A: An invention is "any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof . . . ."  35 U.S.C. §101  Inventions are protected by patents.  And patents give you the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, importing, or offering your invention for sale.  The only way someone can use your invention without subjecting themselves to substantial monetary liability is for them to obtain a license for your invention.

  • 2. What do I do if I think that I have invented something while I was employed by or a student of Northeastern?

    A: You and your co-inventors should fill out an invention disclosure form available here . This MUST be done before anyone publishes information related to your invention.  If you publish your ideas before you submit a complete invention disclosure form, you will give up the right to seek patent protection throughout the world, except for the U.S. and Canada.

  • 3. Do I have to fill out an invention disclosure form?

    A: Yes, the faculty handbook and the student handbook govern the ownership of intellectual property at Northeastern University.  According to the patent and copyright policies contained within these handbooks, the university owns all intellectual property created with the use of substantial university resources.  The University does not own the intellectual property of students and/or faculty that were created outside of this definition.

  • 4. What happens after I fill out an invention disclosure form?

    A: When we receive your form, we review it for completeness.  If it is complete, including containing the signatures of all inventors and a thorough description of the invention, we log your invention disclosure into our system.  From there, your invention is evaluated for its commercialization value as well as its patentability.  After that evaluation is complete, one of two things will happen, (1) the university will seek patent protection on the invention; or (2) the university will return the intellectual property rights disclosed in the invention disclosure form back to the inventors.

  • 5. Can I submit additional information with the invention disclosure form?

    A: Yes, within reason, the more information the better.  Charts, graphs, power point presentations, photos of prototypes, papers prepared for submission, can all be submitted.

  • 6. If the University proceeds with filing for patent protection, what happens next?

    A: A patent application will be prepared and filed with the appropriate patent office(s) at no cost to the inventors.  As inventors, you will play a role in ensuring that the patent application is complete and accurate.  This will often involve working with the university's patent attorneys either in-house or external.  Commercialization efforts will continue in parallel with applying for patent protection.  Similarly, as inventors, you will work closely with the director of commercialization assigned to your case in an effort to find industry partners for your invention.

  • 7. If the university does find an industry partner for my invention, do I get any benefit from that?

    A: Yes, the university has a royalty-sharing policy that is further delineated within the student and faculty handbooks.

  • 8. What are some of the important things I should know about patent rights?

    A: The most important thing to remember about preserving your patent rights is – do not disclose them until you have filled out an invention disclosure form.  Do not publish your ideas in a formal paper.  Do not publish them on the web.  Do not talk about your invention with other people.

  • 9. What if I want to talk about my ideas with a potential business partner?  Can the CRI help me with this?

    A: Yes, the university can help ensure that you have entered into a confidentiality agreement before discussing your invention.  In addition, the invention disclosure form provides a space for you to enter any potential industry leads who may be interested in your invention.

  • 10. What if I want to create a company for my invention?
  • A.  Increasingly, entrepreneurial faculty and students are founding companies to commercialize their inventions. In this case, the University generally receives royalties – as participation in the product or products’ market success, and takes a small equity stake in the firm, in order to participate in the company’s success (if that success is tied directly to University IP).


Member States of the European Patent Organization
Includes information about all member states/extension states and country information

Time Limits for Entering National/Regional Phase under PCT
Includes information about time limits for entering PCT countries

The PCT Applicant's Guide
Includes specific country information about the PCT countries, and other very useful information

PCT Time Limit Calculator
A quick tool to help with questions on timing

United States Patent and Trademark Office

European Patent Office