Best Practices to File an IDF

Over the years, we have found patterns across experienced and beginner inventors alike.  We have gathered “pro tips” below, in an effort to best support inventors. These include:

  • Always try to provide a list of companies in the potential partners section, as well as contextual information about the disclosures listed. This can help our fellows team better understand your space, gather information, and provide a thorough prior art search report.
  • Specify the maturity stage of the project whenever possible. Specifically: is the project an idea, a proof of concept, a reduction to practice implementation, an early or later stage experiment or development, a prototype, a fully-fledged or proven technology, etc.
  • When describing the invention, try to specify how you conceived it being adopted by licensees. Do you expect it to be a product, service, process, or other? For example, will your invention be a drug intended for a treatment, software intended to run on a specific system, etc. This helps licensing managers and fellows understand your technology.
  • Provide as much supporting information as you can provide that is relevant to your invention. This includes unpublished manuscripts, research plans, internal presentation slides, technical descriptions of the technology, etc. Last minute provisional patent application filings may especially require this content.
  • Despite the tip above, please do not just refer to the Supporting Documentation attachments in the Description field (e.g., empty description with a “See attached” message).
  • Be clear on who should be considered an inventor and who should not, as well as each inventor’s nationality and status. This clarity can help our team better structure Inter-Institutional Agreements and take international law precautions.
  • Keep track of the “conception date” of your invention, as well as all your planned and past “publication dates” .
  • Consider that, in an effort to push the project forward, we may reach out to the leading inventors for information and updates. This is especially true for inventions with multiple co-Inventors, or IDFs that include students, or non-Duke collaborators.
  • Always list all funding sources. Even if the project was funded using internal resources over grants, understanding how the project was financed is still needed from the office. Moreover, if the project used infrastructure, labs, stipends, materials “already on the shelf”, or other forms of support, it is encouraged to include this information in your description.
  • Give us enough time to receive, validate, and assign your IDF to a licensing manager. This may take up to a week after your submission. If immediate action is needed, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our licensing managers and let them know in advance.