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How TTOs can improve the quality of invention disclosures

In her recent article, Rebecca Stoughton, vice president of technology transfer support firm Fuentek, discusses improving the quality of invention disclosures as a means of improving  commercialization.

“What makes an invention disclosure a high-quality invention disclosure?” she poses. “This is an interesting question that has nothing to do with the quality of the technology.”

Rather, a good invention disclosure is a simple one that is detailed enough for a patent attorney to determine the technology’s novel aspects for patentability. It should also include the inventor’s perspective on the technology’s commercialization value. This helps technology transfer professionals better evaluate an innovation’s market potential and commercialization strategies.

“Unfortunately, many invention disclosure submissions come up short,” says Stoughton. “Mostly it seems to boil down to a lack of researcher understanding of the importance and role of the invention disclosure.”

Here are Stoughton’s tips for TTOs to improve the quality of their disclosures:

  1. Offer Inventor-Focused Education. Training sessions specifically designed to appeal to researchers can be hugely effective. Stoughton points to an entrepreneurship program Fuentek developed at the Foundation for Polish Science that focused on the basic fundamentals of commercialization, including invention disclosures.
  2. Put It in Context. “When engaging with researchers,” Stoughton advises, “help them understand why a solid — and timely — invention disclosure is important.” Inventors should know not to simply write, “See attached paper,” when asked by patent attorneys to summarize the invention’s key traits. If TTOs can get researchers to see the big picture, that will spur a more collaborative, informative and effective commercialization ecosystem.
  3. Provide Help When They Need It. “The most powerful training is just-in-time training, where the learner is applying the new knowledge right away,” writes Stoughton. One way to accomplish this is through on-demand viewing of segmented and labeled online training sessions on the TTO website. Open office hours and accessible one-on-one support is encouraged as well.
  4. Give them an example. If researchers can directly examine the details of a successful invention disclosure, it will help them when drafting their own disclosures, especially if the example technology is within their same field of research.
  5. Think about what you’re asking. “The invention disclosure is a two-way communication tool,” Stoughton reminds TTOs. “Before the researchers can communicate their inventions to you, you have to clearly and succinctly communicate to them what you want them to tell you.”

Source: Fuentek

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