Simplifying invention disclosure

Director Jeff Jackson
Jeff Jackson, Director of Intellectual Property Managment

Never has a document generated so much dread—except, perhaps, the federal government’s Form 1040.

In response to feedback from the campus community, the Office of Industry Alliances and Technology Commercialization (IATC) redesigned and digitized the UC Santa Cruz Invention Disclosure Form in November 2017. The new form has two goals: one is to make it easier for inventors to disclose new inventions to IATC and the other is to help inventors to focus on patents and licensing.

Gone are the days of having to fill out a paper form, decipher unclear requirements, and find witnesses to sign on a line.

Early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Faculty members appreciate the streamlined approach and being able to start the invention disclosure process with a Google Form.

This change underscores our commitment to bring service to the forefront of our work. After our Assistant Vice Chancellor Mohamed Abousalem joined UC Santa Cruz in summer 2016, he set out to rebuild our technology transfer organization and reinvigorate and reinvest in our campus outreach efforts.

The invention disclosure form is the first step in the tech transfer process, which is why we wanted to make the act of completing the form as seamless as possible. We have also eliminated the need for a separate software disclosure form; the new invention disclosure form includes specific questions concerning software inventions, including whether or not it is intended to be offered under an open source license. Once we receive the completed form, we share it with our system office and begin scheduling follow-up meetings to make sure we are protecting this important intellectual property.

We've shared this change with department chairs in the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences and Baskin School of Engineering, and we are now going to each department to introduce ourselves and share information about all the services we offer.

Last year, we received more than 50 invention disclosures—an all-time high. We think there are many more ideas and inventions that can be commercialized through patents and licensing. Any faculty members, graduate students, and staff members who have developed a product or a process that solves a well-defined technical problem should be sure to share their discovery with our office.

As a public university, bringing our new knowledge to Californians and beyond is integral to our mission. This happens in myriad ways: courses, public talks, publications, and tech transfer. There are also many other reasons to disclose inventions: they look great on CVs, the inventors receive 35 percent of any licensing royalties, and UC covers all the expenses for securing patents.

All it takes is time, and with the new disclosure online form—hopefully quite a bit less than ever before.

Feel free to explore the new online invention disclosure form and contact me at 831-459-3976 or with any questions about the form, invention disclosure, or the patent and/or copyright process at UCSC.