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. 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.
If you are an undergraduate or graduate student and your work is not supported by grants or corporate sponsorship, the rights of the invention usually belong to you. So, you can decide to protect and commercialize the invention yourself, or you can assign your rights to the University by completing an Invention Disclosure Form and begin the University’s commercialization process.
Remember, protect your ideas before you publish them! if you publish before protecting your invention, the right to seek patent protection throughout the world, except for the U.S. and Canada, will be forfeited.
Please refer to the Student Handbook (“Copyrights and Patents” section) and the Capstone Protocol Overview for more information.
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.
When we receive your form, we ensure it is complete, including all signatures of Northeastern inventors and a thorough description of the invention. Next, we log your invention disclosure into our system. It is then evaluated for its commercialization value as well as its patentability. When the 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 back to the inventors.
Yes, within reason, the more information the better. Charts, graphs, PowerPoint presentations, photos of prototypes and papers prepared for submission can all be submitted.
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 CRI in an effort to find industry partners for your invention.
The most important thing to remember about preserving your patent rights is to not disclose any details about your invention 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.
Yes, the University can help ensure 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.