What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property (IP) is a set of intangible rights attached to many products, including materials, writings, technologies, processes, or programs, and may be protected under patent, trademark, and/or copyright laws,and sometimes by contract.
UNHInnovation –Intellectual Asset Management
Commercializing UNH’s intellectual assets (like intellectual property developed through research activity) is one of the main points in UNH's strategic plan, and is a priority for UNHInnovation (UNHI). At UNHI, the main goal of the Intellectual Asset Management team is to help get UNH-derived ideas out into the world and maximize their social and economicimpact by focusing on use rather than financial return. The university’s over $100 million research portfolio creates positive institutional and social change and helps cement UNH as a world-class research institution and economic engine. Our commercialization efforts protect and disseminate the hard work and years of research conducted by faculty, staff, and students, which attracts new research partners and avenues for funding.
The Intellectual Property Commercialization Process
Observations made and experiments conducted as part of a research program often lead to discoveries and innovations that can have significant value to larger audiences, including commercial value. In many cases, multiple researchers may have contributed to the innovation
One of your first opportunities to contact UNHI is during (or even before) the initial phase of your research endeavor. You will be assigned a licensing manager from UNHI who will provide guidance on best practices for protecting your research and will start to lay the foundation for potential commercialization.
Submitting a disclosure of your innovation to UNHI is the first formal step in obtaining proper IP protection and commercializing your innovation. You are strongly encouraged to submit innovation disclosures early in the development process to avoid any potential problems.
Innovation Disclosure Forms
The Innovation Disclosure Form (IDF) is a written notice to UNHI that you have an innovation. It is a confidential document that should fully describe your innovation so that UNHI can begin an assessment. If you are planning on presenting your innovation through publications, poster sessions, conferences, press releases, or other public communication, you should complete an IDF well beforehand. There are separate forms for disclosing inventions, copyrights, software, and trademarks. We can assist you in filling out the correct form. Click here to start the disclosure process
Innovation assessment is the period in which you and your UNHI licensing manager review the innovation disclosure, conduct searches for conflicting patents or trademarks (as applicable), and analyze the market and competitive landscape to determine the innovation’s commercialization potential. This evaluation process will guide UNHI’s strategy for how best to protect and commercialize your innovation. Commercialization may result in licensing the innovation to an existing company or creating a new business.
Protecting the rights of those who create IP is a high priority for UNHI. Common IP protection methods include patents, copyrights, and trademarks, but could also include contractual use restrictions (e.g., for databases and materials). IP protection may not always be possible or necessary, and the legal costs may outweigh the benefits. We will work with you to determine the best course of action during the innovation assessment. The managing director of UNHI makes the final decision as to whether to file a patent or trademark application or seek another form of protection.
There are two primary avenues UNHI pursues to get your ideas into the market:
- Help you create your own company and license the innovation from UNH to the company
- Find a third-party licensee
Create Your Own Company and License the Innovation
With some innovations, an entirely new business might create the greatest opportunities. UNHI can connect you to other innovators and entrepreneurs with experience in start-up formation and guide you through the process of planning and funding your new business.
Finding a Third-Party Licensee
With your involvement, UNHI can seek candidate organizations that have the expertise, resources, and business networks to bring your innovation to market. Each innovation may be at a different development stage, and with your help, UNHI identifies existing opportunities in the marketplace where your innovation might be a good fit. If there is interest in the innovation, UNHI will begin negotiations to enter into a licensing agreement with the third party. Sometimes expansive licenses, such as open source or Creative Commons, are appropriate, but many times the public is better served through traditional fee- and/or royalty-bearing licenses with a third party.
Once a licensee has been identified, UNHI will negotiate and complete the license agreements. A license agreement is a formal contract between the owner of IP and another party. The owner grants permission to use that IP, usually for a specific period and objective. Regardless of the innovation, there are standard terms included in each license agreement to protect the interests of the innovator, the innovation, the institution, and the Federal Government (if applicable). UNHI will work with you in the development of an appropriate commercialization strategy for the innovation and negotiate the terms of the agreement with the licensee. UNHI will also manage the license agreement for UNH over its lifetime, including collecting license deliverables such as licensee commercialization reports and payments.
After a license agreement has been signed, the licensee continues the advancement of the innovation and makes other business investments to develop the product or service. This step may include further development, securing regulatory approvals, sales and marketing support, training, and other activities.
Revenues received by the university from licenses are distributed to the innovator(s) as a personal recognition and to the college(s) of the innovator(s), the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Research (SVPR), and to UNHI. Collectively, the revenues fund additional research and education and encourage further participation in the innovation and commercialization process.
Check out the UNH Innovator’s Guide to Commercialization to learn more about the commercialization process and working with UNHI