Any written or tangible material in the US is automatically protected by copyright. This includes software, teaching materials, videos, and questionnaires. Copyright material can also be registered, which provides additional remedies in case of infringement. In some cases, these technologies may also be patentable. The decision to pursue one or more forms of IP protection often comes down to the costs versus benefits of each.
A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a governing state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.
Usually the first step in seeking patent protection is to file a US provisional patent application. There is never a cost to the inventor or department - OHSU, through Technology Transfer, pays the patent costs until a patent is licensed. When a technology is licensed, OHSU will be reimbursed by the licensee or from license revenues. Provisional patent applications have a life of only one year after filing. Prior to the expiration of the provisional patent application a decision must be made of how best to proceed.
Essentially three options exist: 1) abandon prosecution and release the technology back to inventors or public domain, 2) pursue protection in multiple countries through the filing of a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application, or 3) pursue patent protection only in the US by filing a non-provisional application.
Because patents are issued in individual countries, a large patent portfolio can be very expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars per country. All decisions regarding patents must include the cost of prosecuting and maintaining the patent, the market, the manufacturing capabilities of licensees, and the ability to recognize and prevent infringement in each country. Your Technology Development Manager will continually re-evaluate the invention, taking into account such things as, the inventor's interest in the project, scientific developments, feedback from potential licensees, and other information found or made available when patenting decisions must be made.
The path to patent protection takes a long time - generally three to five years to complete. As we receive feedback from the patent office you, the OHSU Technology Transfer patent team, and your Technology Development Manager will work together in formulating responses to the examiner's rejections and on other aspects of your commercialization plan. In most cases we receive at least one "office action" requiring changes or defense of a patent application.
Biological material protection
Some biological materials such as antibodies or animal models cannot be patented, or it may not be economically feasible to do so. In many cases, however, the effort that has been put into producing these materials, and the expertise at OHSU makes it simpler and more economic for a company to license them than to reproduce them. Non-patented biological materials have a high potential of being commercialized to end users or by research reagent suppliers.
Biological materials such as mice, antibodies and cell lines can often be out licensed and commercialized even without patent or other intellectual property protection. Biological materials that have been previously described in a publication should be disclosed to OHSU Technology Transfer.
A trademark protects a brand name such as any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one seller or provider from those of others. Trademark protection is typically handled by OHSU’s Legal Department, but OHSU Technology Transfer can assist.