FAQ & Resources


Have questions?

You’re not alone. Here you’ll find answers to the most common innovator questions. If you don’t see what you need, contact us. We’re here to help. Check back as we update this section often.

Why disclose? (Or why tell us?)

Disclosing your innovation to our office is the first step in helping us determine protection, a commercial strategy and the path needed for further development of your idea.

The pathway to making research reality begins with you!

Who can submit a disclosure?

To access to the inventor portal, you must be a UF faculty or employee and have an active GatorLink account. If you are experiencing difficulty logging in with your user name and password, please contact our office to help verify your access.

How do I know who to list as a creator on my disclosure?

You should include anyone that you believe contributed to the creation of the invention. These are active participants that physically or mentally contributed to the discovery. We want you to know that a creator may not be a patent inventor.

Why do I want to commercialize my idea?

Commercialization can:

  • Attract funding from federal and private sponsors
  • Help to form industrial partnerships
  • Potentially earn royalty income
  • Move research innovations to the market for the public good and global impact

Don’t underestimate the value of your work! Few innovations generate millions of dollars, but they all improve the world around us.

I received a federal grant, conducted experiments, and made a discovery in my lab. Do I tell the agency first?

Under the requirements of the Bayh-Dole Act and University of Florida policy, University employees must disclose all intellectual property created by them to UF Innovate | Tech Licensing. Once you disclose to our office, we will let the agency know that you made a discovery.

Is my discovery an innovation?

An innovation can be a remarkable, unexpected result of your research or it can be an improvement to an existing concept. Innovations can include everything from software codes to redesigned helicopter blades to vaccine formulations. If you aren’t sure, you can always contact us.

If innovations are everything from software to vaccines, are there different types of disclosure forms to use?

Yes!
Currently, we have three types of forms available on our website.

  • Biological material: Use our biomat form to describe innovations in cell lines, mouse models, antibodies, etc. This form currently is not available through the innovator portal. To disclose biomaterials, you need to access the form here.
  • Work: Access the inventor portal, and then choose the “work disclosure” option to describe innovations such as:
    • printed material
    • computer software or databases
    • audio and visual material
    • circuit diagrams
    • architectural and engineering drawings
    • lectures
    • musical or dramatic compositions
    • choreographic works
    • and pictorial or graphic works

    You can also use this form to describe a trademark that may add value to your program or work.

  • Invention: Access the inventor portal, and then choose the “invention disclosure” option for any discovery that doesn’t fit the work or biomaterial descriptions above.

When should I disclose an invention?

Researchers, faculty, graduate students and clinicians should disclose all intellectual property that may be eligible for protection as soon as possible in order to obtain patents. UF Innovate | Tech Licensing works with hundreds of researchers every year to assist them in protecting their intellectual property. With a patent, you can prevent others from making, using or selling your invention for a certain period unless they have your permission. Patent protection is vitally important to finding a commercial partner willing to invest in getting your discovery from the lab to the market.

Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be.

A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.

I'm ready to publish. Should I disclose to your office after I submit the manuscript?

Disclose to us first. We understand how important it is to share your results with the scientific community. But it is important to know that the date that you first make your research public can affect patentability. Call us first.

Can UF Innovate | Tech Licensing still protect my invention if I presented or published?

Do not discuss your discovery with anyone outside your laboratory without first executing a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA). This includes presenting posters at conferences or submitting publications. Telling others what your discovery does is fine, but giving enabling information (i.e., how your discovery works) without a CDA in place can drastically affect patent protection.

If I publicly describe my invention, does that mean it can't be patented?

Maybe. That depends on the type of public presentation and the date. We encourage our faculty and staff to describe their discovery in an invention disclosure to our office first, so we can review it before any public presentation. But if you already publicly disclosed, we may have other options. When you disclose to our office, be sure to describe the public presentation and provide the date in the disclosure.
The type of public presentation is also important. Certain abstract submissions, conference presentations and poster content may not be defined as enabling and may not affect patentability. This is also why it’s important to disclose as soon as possible.

What should I do before speaking with industry or someone outside the university?

Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDAs) protect your rights if you need to discuss enabling details of your invention with people outside the university. UF Innovate | Tech Licensing staff execute an average of 300 CDAs per year, often completing them on the same day. A CDA serves three purposes:

  • It alerts the receiving party of the confidentiality of the information to be received.
  • It specifies the responsibilities required of the receiving party.
  • It can be used as evidence in subsequent patent processing, e.g., to defeat an allegation that the invention is not novel because the inventor treated it as public information. This kind of allegation arises frequently from those contesting a potentially lucrative patent, so a CDA is more than a “mere formality.”

Why do I need a patent?

UF Innovate | Tech Licensing works with hundreds of researchers every year to assist them in protecting their intellectual property by filing patents. With a patent, you can prevent others from making, using or selling your invention for a certain time period unless they have your permission. Patent protection is vitally important to finding a commercial partner willing to invest in getting your discovery from the lab to the market. Tech Licensing associates work with law firms to manage the patent prosecution process.

A patent is an intellectual property right granted by the government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

There are three types of patents:

  • Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  • Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture
  • Plant patents may be granted to anyone who has invented or discovered and asexually produced a distinct and new variety of plan, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state

Learn about the patent process

A copyright protect works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed. The Library of Congress registers copyrights which last for the life of the author plus 70 years.

A trademark protects words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in commerce.

I want to start a company. How do I do that?

First, you need to disclose your invention. Some technologies are better suited for licensing to an existing company, where they might fit into product offerings and markets. However, if your technology is sufficiently broad-based (e.g. a platform technology that enables a range of different products, possibly for a range of different markets) or novel, or offers potential returns that justify the required capital investment, a startup company may present the best commercialization strategy. UF consistently ranks among the nation’s leaders in launching companies based on university research. In most startup companies, the faculty inventor plays an important role, usually as chief scientific adviser.

For more information, read the Startup Primer, explore Funding & Resources.

What is UF Innovate | Tech Licensing and what does it do for me?

UF Innovate | Tech Licensing is a Faculty Service division of the University of Florida and an extension of the Office of Research. Tech Licensing manages the intellectual property for all UF faculty and staff. We review intellectual property to create a strategy to bring that research to real world use.

I have an idea. My department chair told me to contact your office. Who should I contact?

That depends. In many cases our Licensing Teams are assigned to specific colleges & divisions of the university. If you aren’t sure who you should address, call our main line, (352) 392-8929 and our administrative team will put you in touch with the appropriate person.

Someone mentioned the "intellectual property policy." What is that?

The University of Florida, many years ago, put into place a concrete policy for any discoveries made by faculty or staff during and under the scope of their employment at our institution. The policy explains the process of inventions, royalty distributions, special considerations that only affect members of the collective bargaining units, and most aspects of what happens when research results in intellectual property.

You can view UF’s intellectual property policy here.

Isn't a "patent inventor" and "creator" the same thing?

Well… not necessarily. For a creator to be named as a patent inventor, the creator must meet a stringent legal definition. Tech Licensing and the University of Florida do not participate in the determination of a patent inventor. The determination is made by legal patent counsel.

Legal counsel determines a patent inventor by:

  1. asking if the creator contributed to the mental discovery of the invention (this means they provided content to the discovery that resulted in the innovation)
  2. the claims stated in the final patent must include the contributions of the legally determined inventor

Wait. I was a creator but this issued patent doesn't have my name on it. What happened?

A creator on the invention must meet the legal definition, and their contributions to the invention must be included in the final version of the patent. If you have questions, you can contact our office and we can discuss the case further.

I received an email indicating that my manuscript will publish tomorrow. I leave in two days to present my innovation at a meeting in Australia. Is it too late to disclose?

We understand deadlines and urgency. We encourage you to submit the disclosure even if it is just before you board your flight to that international conference. If you have found yourself in that position, call our office and make us aware of the impending deadline. A quick assessment can determine if it’s necessary to protect the innovation right away.

Does the innovation description have to be detailed?

The short answer is yes. In order for the disclosure to be acceptable for assessing commercial potential, for patent review and/or preparation or for submitting to the sponsoring agency, the invention must have a description that is enabling enough that someone versed in your research skills could recreate your idea.

But I don't want anyone to steal my idea!

We understand how important your discovery is! Your invention disclosure is completely confidential; no content describing the innovation will be shared. We take confidentiality seriously.

So I'm ready to share my idea with you. I just submitted my disclosure. What now?

UF Innovate | Tech Licensing will process the disclosure internally. You will receive a series of emails confirming our receipt of your disclosure, and we will typically request to meet with you and/or your research team in person or by web conference so that we can learn more about your invention, your thoughts on future development or research, and discuss with you potential commercialization opportunities.

Your office says "commercialize" a lot. What does that mean?

Commercialization means many things! It could mean that we might pursue patent rights to your idea, or if your invention doesn’t meet the requirements for patenting we might see that it has potential for licensing. If the invention gets licensed with or without a patent, the goal is that it leads to commercialization so that eventually your discovery becomes available to the world.

That's cool. I received a letter that says UF wants to commercialize my technology. When do I get my first check?

Royalties are derived from the income received under a license agreement. This doesn’t happen right away. To get to the stage that royalties are received, the invention has to become a product and the licensee must meet certain milestones over a certain number of years. This all varies based on the projected dates for the development of the invention to be ready for the consumer market.

OK. So I don't get a check right away. But the letter says UF exerts its rights to my invention. What will happen next?

Your licensing team will (or might have already) discussed the proposed strategy for your invention. This typically involves filing a patent application.

My licensing team mentioned they will file a provisional patent application. What does that mean?

A provisional application is the typical first step in pursuing protection of an invention. The provisional is a non-published placeholder application that says “Hey, Dr. X invented what is described in this document on this date” and serves as proof of First to File. And it also is the base of any application that might be filed later about that invention.

What if I still have more questions?

  • See the UF Intellectual Property Policy
  • See the UF IP Policy/Mobile Apps
  • Or call UF Innovate | Tech Licensing, (352) 392-8929.
    We will be happy to help.

    I just want permission to use the UF or Gator logo for my home craft business. Can you help?

    UF Innovate | Tech Licensing does not handle the University of Florida branding including the logos, gator head emblems or any other general, and we don’t grant permission for private use. But you can contact the University Communications at (352) 846-3903 or email: identity@ufl.edu

    Resources

    Intellectual Property Policy

    Material Transfer Agreement (MTAs)

    Should you decide to transfer or receive materials such as antibodies or cell lines, UF Innovate | Tech Licensing will be happy to work with you to execute a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) to ensure all intellectual property rights are defined prior to the transfer.

    MTAs protect your intellectual property rights when you exchange biological, chemical or other materials, including cell lines, plasmids, vectors, transgenic mice or chemical compounds with other organizations. UF Innovate | Tech Licensing assists researchers in executing hundreds of MTAs each year and can help you in expediting this process to ensure your rights are protected. Please note: Only authorized university administrators can sign these agreements. (Deans and Chairs are not authorized administrators). To request an MTA form, contact our MTA Coordinator, (352) 392- 8929.

    If you are a strong student with a background in science and an interest in tech transfer, consider a position as a fellow for Material Transfer Agreements. The office typically hires only one MTA fellow per year. Read more about the position.

    To help streamline the MTA process, UF Innovate | Tech Licensing has partnered with Kerafast, a reagent company whose primary mission is to make unique research tools easily accessible to the global scientific community. UF researchers can add their lab-made reagents – including antibodies, cell lines, proteins, small molecules and more – to Kerafast’s online catalog, where researchers worldwide can access the materials with a quick, one-click MTA. Kerafast will proactively market your reagents, handle all selling and shipping logistics, and return a portion of the proceeds to both UF and your lab. For more information, contact UF/Kerafast fellow Lidia Kulemina at kulemina@ufl.edu.

    Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDAs)

    Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDAs) protect your rights if you need to discuss enabling details of your invention with people outside the university. UF Innovate | Tech Licensing staff execute an average of 300 CDAs per year, often completing them on the same day. A CDA serves three purposes:

    • It alerts the receiving party of the confidentiality of the information to be received.
    • It specifies the responsibilities required of the receiving party.
    • It can be used as evidence in subsequent patent processing, e.g., to defeat an allegation that the invention is not novel because the inventor treated it as public information. This kind of allegation arises frequently from those contesting a potentially lucrative patent, so a CDA is more than a “mere formality.”

    Division of Sponsored Research

    The Division of Sponsored Programs (DSP) facilitates institutional approval for all proposal submissions, accepts and administers grant awards, and negotiates contracts and other research-related agreements on behalf of the university.

    Visit the DSP site here: http://research.ufl.edu/dsp.html. 

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