The commercial exploitation of inventions, in the form of products and processes for business and industry, is a highly competitive enterprise. Inventors must begin the University disclosure process as soon as the possibility of an invention becomes evident. Delays give others an opportunity to establish a claim which may deprive an original inventor of his/her rightful recognition and compensation.
In general, it is prudent to delay the oral disclosure or publication of research details that are specific to an invention until such time as the invention has been evaluated and, as appropriate, protected. Such decisions, however, should not be allowed to adversely affect the progress of students toward their degrees. In most cases, the omission of information from publications which would compromise a commercial application does not impede the free flow of fundamental knowledge. In particular, inventions in a University setting are usually practical manifestations of an underlying body of fundamental knowledge. As such, one can frequently engage in the free exchange of basic ideas without compromising the practical application. If inventors have questions about the disclosure or publication of research, they are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Technology Transfer Office.
Public disclosure of a concept in the open literature (in abstracts and texts of presentations at meetings, and in theses, etc.) generally precludes obtaining patent protection in most foreign countries. In the U.S., one may obtain a patent as long as the application is filed within one year of the date of public disclosure. The impact of the waiving of foreign rights for an invention depends upon the size of U.S. and foreign markets, the relative market shares of foreign and domestic companies in the technology in question, etc.