As a researcher at The University of Alabama, you create discoveries of great significance to the academic and business community with benefits to the general public. OTT’s job is to work with you to bring these breakthrough discoveries to the widest possible audience through commercialization.
Is Your Discovery an Invention?
- “Invention”: a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or new or useful improvement upon them (from our Glossary of terms).
- Inventions may lead to commercial products and processes.
- Inventions may occur in any field and encompass many areas.
- Inventions may address a market or technical need.
If you’ve invented something “new,” we’re ready to work with you to determine if your invention has commercial potential.
Rewards of Inventorship
- Practical application of your research in developing products fosters the widest possible recognition of your research efforts.
- Collaboration with industrial partners may also result in financial sponsorship of additional research or outside consulting.
- Collaboration with industrial partners may also financially support your students, provide them invaluable experience, and give them potential future career paths.
- You receive a share of the monetary compensation received by UA in the form of license payments. (See Policy on Distribution of Royalties, Fees, and Other Financial Returns from Inventions Owned by The University)
- These revenues can also be a source of funding for your laboratory and department.
Why Protect Your Invention through Patent?
- For patentable inventions, it is difficult to protect your invention once you publish it via a paper, website, or presentation at a conference. We must file for patent protection before publication should we wish to obtain patent protection outside the US. If the market for your invention is global, this is an important consideration as you plan publications and public presentations.
- After publication or any other public disclosure, your invention is no longer patentable outside the U.S. while we have one year to file for a U.S. patent. (See Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks page.)
- After filing a patent application, you may exhibit or publish your work without the loss of patent protection for the inventions claimed in the application.
- Patents can provide a strong economic incentive for a company to license UA technology. Patents give UA and its licensees the right to exclude others from practicing the invention for a period ending twenty years from the patent application’s filing date. This period of exclusivity presents a barrier to entry to other companies, allowing the firm that licenses the invention sufficient time to recoup its investment.
- Some technology lends itself to copyright protection, such as software, educational materials, multimedia presentations, etc. In these cases, copyright protection is provided at creation, but we may also elect under certain circumstances to register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
- Other materials such as vectors, plasmids, cell lines and animals (mice, rats, etc) may be maintained as proprietary materials. Often these “research tools” are licensed non-exclusively to multiple companies.