Intellectual Property Services for Staff

Invention Disclosure: Why & How

Got a great idea?

Let us help you keep all your options open. Before you share a new idea publicly, talk to us first!

(Drop us a short message and we'll ensure the right person responds.)

Copyright, trademark, or patent?

Intellectual Property Protection for the Lab  (7/14/15 - login required) Intellectual Property FAQs

New ideas and innovations developed by our staff are important and essential to achieving our organization's vision, mission, and goals for sharing our science and making an impact.

We encourage researchers and inventors in our organization to talk with us at the very earliest stage, as your idea for a new method, application, or technology is forming.

Our door is always open, and we welcome the opportunity to talk things over from the start of your process. Our goal is to provide you with as many options as possible.

Why talk to us first?

Because any third-party disclosure before putting protections in place could significantly shrink your options for certain types of protection, we urge you to contact us first. By getting in touch early on, we can ensure that your ideas receive the most appropriate form of intellectual property protection that will yield the most benefit for you and the organization.

Third-party disclosure includes communication without first establishing conditions of confidentiality with colleagues outside the organization or with the general public, via informal conversation, published papers, symposia, or any other means.

UCAR also has a legal obligation to the National Science Foundation and other sponsors to disclose any inventions developed during the normal course of work funded by our sponsors.

To fulfill that requirement, employees are required to disclose all ideas related to technologies, concepts, software, or improvements in existing technology that are in some way novel, leading-edge, or might have applications outside of NCAR/UCAR. Disclosure is required, regardless of whether your invention will be freely available or have limited access.

An idea can still be in the concept stage; it does not have to be implemented or even in development. By following the disclosure process outlined below, UCAR's legal team in the Office of General Counsel (UCAR/OGC) can assist you in making the best possible disclosure while affording all protections provided by law.

The invention disclosure process

Disclosure and protection of your idea or invention begins with these simple steps:

  1. Contact UCAR/OGC to discuss your idea and the protection options.
  2. Complete the UCAR Invention Disclosure Form, which includes questions that fulfill all NSF requirements.
  3. If any non-NSF sponsor requires invention disclosure, complete that sponsor's form as well, and provide a copy to UCAR/OGC.

UCAR/OGC will assist you in filling out the necessary forms. We also invite participation by your manager at any stage in the process.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)

In specific situations, disclosure of an invention outside the organization may occur pursuant to properly executed confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements with relevant individuals and organizations. Non-disclosure Agreement Forms are available from UCAR/OGC, and we accept third-party forms, as well.

Related UCAR Policy

Intellectual Property Policy 3-2

U.S. Patent Law

United States Patent and Trademark Office