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Filing an Invention Disclosure Form

At Duke, an Invention Disclosure Form, or “IDF” for short, represents the first recording of an invention, and the “kick-off point” for the office to begin working with you on the best way to protect, market, and license to a commercial partner. It begins by establishing the key dates around the conception of an invention, as well as its scope.

Information provided in the invention disclosures describe what the invention does, what makes it novel with respect to existing research, practice, or technology, who made an inventive contribution to the invention and the contribution percentage provided by each contributor to the invention’s development, any use of third-party materials to develop the invention, and, if applicable, how that invention was funded (generally government, industry, or foundation resources).

IDFs are the first step in documenting and ultimately protecting and licensing your invention. Based on the technology area and previous relationships, the office will first assign the IDF to a licensing manager who will begin the process of evaluating the invention for IP protection and commercialization.

The office prefers to receive invention disclosures as early as an idea stage such that we may work with you to determine strategy for protection and marketing and also to identify potential resources for moving the invention forward. However, we also can react quickly in case of an “emergency publication” in order to protect the patentability of the invention.

To maximize the invention’s strategic success, it’s best to file an invention disclosure form at least three months before any external disclosure concerning a potentially patentable invention, or in anticipation of confidential interactions regarding an invention with external institutions. This can give the office enough time to meet with the team, evaluate how the invention could be protected under IP rights, request a Technology Fellows report, and coordinate any applicable agreements.

If you need support in filing an invention disclosure, please reach out to the office staff at

To read more about how to file an IDF, visit

More about risks of public disclosure and ownership of inventions

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