How to Fill in an Invention Disclosure Form

How Can Duke inventors File Invention Disclosure Forms with the Office for Translation & Commercialization?

Our online Invention Disclosure Form is available at

The link will take you to our office’s online platform, where you will need to sign in with your DukeID. Upon reaching the Invention Disclosure Form, you will find the following fields:

Invention Title – The title should generally explain what the invention does for a non-technical audience. Ideally, the title itself should not reveal unique or proprietary details of how the invention works. Examples: “Methods for Detecting Lymphoid Tissue in Tumor Progression” or “Device for Imaging Breast Cancer” or “Mobile App for Symptom Monitoring”.

Though acronyms, creative naming, and non-technical titles may be used upon commercialization, the office does not recommend using these for your Invention Disclosure titles.

Date of Conception – The date that the invention was first conceived or ideated. Conception means the formation, in the mind of the inventor(s), of a definite and permanent idea of the invention.

Description – Here you should describe, as thoroughly as reasonably possible, what your invention is, the stage of development of the invention (e.g., idea stage, reduction to practice, proof-of-concept, prototype, lab experiment, field experiment, etc.), its advantages over other technologies in the field, its characteristics and components, unmet needs it fulfills, problems it solves, different ways of making or using the invention, and how you envision the technology being used by potential licensees. Please explain clearly what is new and novel about your invention in this field. Especially if you are a regular submitter, please point out what is new compared to your previous, very similar invention(s).

Any documentation related to the invention that may help non-experts in the field understand your invention, such as manuscript drafts, invention write-ups, schematics or flowcharts, PowerPoint presentations related to the invention, etc. is especially helpful and can be uploaded in the “Supporting Documents” section. If you attach information, please still fill the description field thoroughly.

Potential Partners and Competing Labs – In this section you should list any companies or investors that might be interested in your invention. Students, entrepreneurs, or relationships with companies that might be interested in your idea should also be listed.

In regard to competing products/technologies or companies, it is useful to list companies or institutions working in the same space.

If you have been in contact with any of the above, please state it. This will help the office contact potential licensees as part of a marketing campaign.

Use of Third-Party Materials – In this section you should list any materials used, their source, and the date the materials were received. Any materials transfer agreements related to the invention should also be listed.

In the case of software or hardware inventions, please list, and include links if available, to any datasets, programming kits, third-party hardware, software libraries, and open-source software used to develop the invention.

In the case of copyrightable work, such as instruments or training material, please list any outside or previously existing copyrighted work that was used or incorporated to produce your invention.

Disclosure Status – This section enables the office to quickly determine if publicly displayed posters or electronic presentations, conference talks, published abstracts or manuscripts, meetings with companies or investors, software uploads, product demonstrations, YouTube videos, or presentations within Duke that are open to the public (e.g., Ph.D. dissertations, grant rounds, or other instances that are not internal Duke events) require a quick decision on filing for IP protection.

If you have shared information related to the invention to any entities or persons outside of Duke, please mark “Yes” on “The Invention has been Disclosed”.

The “Disclosure # N” sub-sections refer to the dates your invention was publicly disclosed. In other words, the date of a past dissertation, presentation, grant round, etc.

If you have “Anticipated Disclosures” that have not yet occurred, please mark “Yes” on “Are there Anticipated Disclosures?”.

The “Anticipated Disclosure # M” sub-sections refer to the dates your invention is planned for a potential publication. In other words, the date of a future dissertation, presentation, grant round, etc. Please make sure you add all anticipated disclosures in this section. If you don’t have a specific date, please consider the status and dates carefully. Misrepresenting the disclosure status can result in loss of patent rights.

Contributors – A contributor is any person (at Duke or outside of Duke) who has made a significant intellectual and creative contribution to either the conception of the invention or its reduction to practice.

Inventorship on any patents filed will be determined in accordance with US patent law and are defined as someone who “contributes conceptually” to the idea.

For software inventions and copyrightable work, authorship on any copyrights filed will be determined in accordance with US copyright law and are persons who “contribute creatively” to the work.For example, someone who provided testing, manufacturing, or development services as a work-for-hire contractor would not be considered an inventor.

Please make sure to describe each person’s contribution to the invention to help with the determination in the “Contribution to Invention” section.

The order in which the names are listed has no legal significance, however it is important to pick a primary contact for the IDF. This is the person that, absent other direction from the group, the office will generally work with directly and expect to communicate with the other inventors.

All Duke employee contributors submitting the disclosure should discuss and agree on what contributions they made in advance of the IDF’s filing and indicate how revenue should be divided in the Royalty Share boxes such that the total share is 100% for contributors who are Duke employees (or were Duke employees at the time of the invention creation).

If contribution percentages are not indicated, the assumption will be that all inventors made equal contributions.

Note on IDFs with non-Duke contributors:

In the case of inventions created in collaboration with non-Duke contributors, agreeing on contributor distributions among all inventors/authors in advance of IDF filing is often encouraged, as many technology transfer offices often work with the inventors’ previously agreed percentages.

You can optionally include any agreed distribution percentages across multiple parties in the non-Duke contributor’s notes, as well as in the “Description” field for the IDF. This is useful to the office as inter-institutional agreements are usually needed for IP management among the joint owners.

Contributors who are not Duke employees do not need to sign the Duke IDF form but may need to file a similar form with their respective employers.

Note on international contributors:

Please consider honestly and to the best of your knowledge, the status and nationality of the contributors. These questions are important for assignment rights and international patent laws. Each country has specific patent laws for their citizens, and improper filings can result in fines, loss of patent rights, and potentially even imprisonment. If a contributor’s nationality is unknown, please state it.

Funding Sources – In this section, please list any non-Duke funding sources used for the Invention. For example, federal, state, or foundation funding as well as funding through an industry funded sponsored research agreement or clinical trial. If there was any Duke internal funding used, please add a note in the description section describing such Duke funding.

In the case of grants or contracts, please include its number and source agency.

It’s often encouraged to upload any grant documentation to your “Supporting Documents” section, especially if the documents include intellectual property considerations.

Note on special considerations from funding sources:

Some funding sources may request partial or full access to the invention, making the invention openly available, obtaining a non-exclusive license to the invention, filing of a special form to evaluate the invention’s patentability, or other special considerations. If this is the case, please include any special considerations you are aware of in the “Description” section.

File – When ready, and after all fields have been reviewed, click Submit. Congratulations! Your IDF has been successfully filed!