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Prioritizing customer service goals, Hopkins TTO promises quick response on disclosures


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: April 5th, 2017

When Neil Veloso, the executive director of technology transfer at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) in Baltimore, MD, began looking for a way to improve the TTO’s approach to reviewing invention disclosures, he had multiple goals in mind. “We wanted to be responsive to the PTO’s [Patent and Trademark Office] first-to-file model, and we wanted to provide transparency and more rigor in how we are responding to our inventors,” he explains. “Thirdly, this is really a volume issue for the university. We receive almost 500 invention disclosures a year, and we have received 2,000 disclosures since 2013, and I just wanted a very disciplined, rigorous way to manage that volume.”

To address all of these concerns, Veloso came up with “2-2-2,” a program with a catchy title that is hard to forget for both inventors and technology transfer professionals. The program’s intent is quite simple: inventors who submit disclosures can expect initial contact from JHTV within two days, a scheduled meeting with JHTV personnel to discuss the innovation within two weeks, and a decision on whether or not JHTV will file for a provisional patent on the discovery within two months.

Easier said than done, right? Perhaps, but roughly one year following implementation of 2-2-2, compliance with program goals is nearing 100%, observes Laura Mitchell, the senior IP manager at JHTV. “For me personally, I can tell that the faculty are thankful that we are getting back to them, and that they know what to expect and when,” she says. “And this is something that can be reported back to faculty chairmen who ask how the program is working.”

To appreciate the achievement represented by the 2-2-2 program, one must consider where JHTV was as recently as three years ago. “You had no idea whether you would get a response, what kind of response you would get and from what kind of person. It was totally catch as catch can,” recalls Myron Weisfeldt, MD, who was the chair of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine from 2001 to 2014, and now serves as university distinguished service professor and senior medical director at JHTV.

“You had to get on the phone and push people to get attention. Otherwise you just did not get attention.” Weisfeldt notes that relations between faculty innovators and JHTV are now on the mend. This is at least in part due to the improved responsiveness of technology transfer personnel, he says. “There is a feeling of confidence that people are paying attention to [faculty inventors],” he says. “If they put all the work into making a disclosure that is penetrating and high quality … they are getting an acknowledgement of receipt of the disclosure, and they are getting an appointment [with JHTV] within two weeks.”

Further, within that two-week period, the JHTV staffer in charge of the technology will do his or her homework, investigating the technology that is described, and preparing any relevant questions to discuss during the meeting with the inventor, observes Weisfeldt. “Then, within two months … [JHTV] will tell the inventor whether the university will, in fact, file a preliminary patent and develop the project or the inventor will have the right to patent the discovery outside the university.”

A detailed article on the “2-2-2” program appears in the March issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and read the full article, and gain access to the publication’s 10-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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