Research Affairs / 
Protecting an Invention


Protect an Invention

Research Affairs - Technology Transfer has many tools to protect your invention.  We may employ any or all of these tools in the course of commercializing or sharing an invention with external parties.  They include the following intellectual property rights:


When to contact Technology Transfer


PatentsPatents

A Patent for an invention is a grant of a right to an inventor to exclude others from working the invention. Patents are issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and by similar government offices in foreign countries.

See The Patenting Process at LLU (click for larger version):

LLU Patent Process

In legal language, what is granted is “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. Note that a right is not granted to make, use, sell, offer to sell, or import the invention--only the right to exclude others from doing so.

Patenting LLU-based inventions and discoveries has many benefits. One important benefit is that a patent may enhance LLU’s ability to market the idea to corporations that invest in its development, manufacture, and distribution.  This ultimately benefits the public by providing new goods and services, improved health care, and economic growth. 

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Confidential Disclosure AgreementsConfidential Disclosure Agreements  

A Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA), sometimes called a Non-Disclosure Agreement, is a legal document that protects the confidential or proprietary information related to an invention. Such a document is necessary before transferring the proprietary information from one party (such as a LLU researcher) to another (such as a corporate representative). Otherwise, the transfer of proprietary information, even in a casual conversation, could legally be considered a public disclosure. In the worst case, the recipient of this information could use or transmit it to others, thus placing the invention in the public domain. This would preclude the possibility of obtaining intellectual property protection, i.e. a patent.

See The CDA Process at LLU

It is important to contact Research Affairs - Financial Management before disclosing any confidential proprietary information to another party. For a contract that is used to transfer research materials, see the MTA Process at LLU.  

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CopyrightsCopyrights

Books and articles, software, artwork, photography, music, motion pictures, and websites can be registered for Copyright.  Copyright owners have five exclusive rights: to copy, distribute, display, and perform their works, and to make derivative works.

At Loma Linda University, United States copyright law and institutional policy govern how works created at LLU are managed. Authorship is determined by U.S. law, and the person who wrote the work is generally the owner of the content. Copyright takes effect immediately, whether or not any paperwork is filed.

You do not need to register your work with the United States Copyright Office to have a "copyrighted" work. However, formal registration has the following benefits:

  • Allows the copyright owner to sue for infringement and receive the statutory protection and compensation for damages and legal fees.
  • Notifies the world of the copyright and helps ensure author attribution.
  • Helps to define the duration of the copyright.

Someone who only edited the work or came up with the idea for it might not be considered an author and might not have any copyright in the work. In some situations, copyright on material created for an employer is automatically owned by that employer; but at LLU, this does not apply to most faculty work. It may apply to work done as part of a project team.  Copyright ownership can be transferred by means of the proper agreements, or if substantive LLU resources are used to create the work.

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TrademarksTrademarks

Trade or service marks distinguish one product or service from another in the marketplace. Trademarks are established by using the mark on a product, and can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The strongest trademarks are arbitrary names made up just for that product or service, for example, "Kodak" for photo equipment.

Web-right or domain names are considered trademarks.  They must be managed appropriately and registered through Technology Transfer.

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Trade SecretsTrade Secrets

A Trade Secret is technical information that:

  • has economic value to the possessor,
  • is not generally known to the public, and
  • the holder takes reasonable efforts to keep secret.

If Loma Linda University researchers are aware of a process of how to do something that is not publicly known and has value, then they hold a trade secret. Much of the information about new inventions or discoveries, commonly referred to as 'know-how,' is a valuable asset of a research program and may warrant management to ensure the ongoing use of the information in the research project.

Contact Technology Transfer for guidance on taking the necessary legal precautions to ensure that the trade secrets in your research are managed responsibly.

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BiomaterialsBiomaterials

Often in the course of research, new tools are developed and materials are created that have the potential to be useful to other researchers either at other academic institutions or companies. In the event that other academic researchers are interested in obtaining LLU materials, a Material Transfer Agreement can be put in place. 

While the University does not typically patent biomaterials such as antibodies and cell lines, these materials can be transferred to companies for a fee. If companies are, or might be, interested in materials you have created, submit an Invention Disclosure Form  to the Office of the Vice President for Research Affairs. 

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