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New Invention

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Invention Status

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From the early stages of ideation and discovery, we stand ready to work alongside you to move your innovation from lab to market.

Our staff are trained to assist you with questions related to intellectual property protection, marketability, connect you with funding sources, identify commercial partners, new business start-up considerations, University policies and procedures, to ensure the best path for your innovation. 

Your Role in the Process

The invention and licensing process is not always a simple linear series of actions. Each invention has its own challenges and your active input and participation will be a big part of our success.

As a Duke Inventor you will be asked to:

  • Complete an invention disclosure form and provide supporting materials and data.
  • Work with us to identify companies and people who could be potential licensees
  • Speak with a patent attorney to describe the invention and provide supporting materials
  • Review the patent application and any office-actions from the USPTO (US Patent and trademark office).
  • Sign any documents or take any lawful oaths as may be required by the USPTO.
  • Meet with potential licensees and investors

Our Process

Submitting your idea to our office is the first step. Please use the Invention Disclosure Form (IDF), a confidential, internal document that provides more details about your innovation. Since patent rights are affected, it is best to submit an Invention Disclosure well before communicating or disclosing your invention to people outside the Duke community.  There are significant differences between the U.S. and other countries as to how early publication affects a potential patent.

Read More About IDF

This is when you and your OTC representative review the invention disclosure, conduct patent searches (if applicable), and analyze the market and competitive technologies to determine your invention’s commercialization potential. 

Assessment Process

Our team will work with you to determine the best intellectual property protection approach for your invention, which might include filing a provisional patent application as a first step.  The University will pay the costs incurred during this process to recover that investment from a license partner. 

Protection Strategies

In parallel with the patent protection, we also encourage inventors to continue developing and growing their technology to the proof-of-concept stage. This will de-risk your early-stage technology and increase the likelihood of attracting potential licensees and investors. The link below lists internal and external translational grants and entrepreneurial resources to facilitate this process.

Translational Resources

Often inventors will have a destination in mind for their technology, but OTC is ready to help market technologies as well. Licensing managers coordinate with our tech marketing team to determine which technologies need more of a push out to industry. Together with our OTC Fellows, the tech marketing team develops one-pagers on technologies which are then posted online and sent directly to new and old industry contacts – with inventor input, of course. These marketing efforts help not only connect inventors with industry for possible licensure, but provide valuable feedback for determining the next step of a technology's IP protection and commercialization pathway.

Contact Tech Marketing Team

Our New Venture team stands ready to work with Duke innovators who are interested in launching a startup and takes pride in helping to form focused and resilient start-up companies built for the rewarding AND challenging road of a technology-based new venture. 

New Ventures

Active engagement between Duke OTC, innovators and potential licensing partners are essential to bringing technologies to market. The OTC team will work with you to identify candidate companies and put in place any necessary confidentiality agreements to ensure that research results or intellectual property rights remain protected during these external interactions. 

FAQ on Licensing

Once an agreement has been finalized, the OTC licensing team and operations team will work closely with the commercial partner to ensure compliance with transactional terms.  OTC is responsible for managing the expenses and revenues associated with technology agreements. Per University Policy, revenues from license fees, royalties and equity—minus any unreimbursed patenting and file expenses—are shared with inventors. Typically when a license agreement is developed, a Revenue Distribution Plan (RDP) is created to document the formula used to distribute any subsequent revenues.

Revenue Distribution Plan

Additional Resources

Do you have more questions about processes, policies and other service?

Explore our Resources for Faculty and Innovators Page