Before sharing your work, the University of Melbourne can help you assess whether you have created any intellectual property you may want to protect.
Before you publish
Publishing or presenting your work to others is rewarding and integral to advancing your career. In some cases, protecting IP, through options like a patent filing, may open up new opportunities to create impact from your research.
As a researcher, you must disclose all new IP to the University.Telling us about the IP you create means we can help you protect your idea and develop it over time.
Protecting IP doesn’t mean you can't publish the results of your research. You can do both, if you act early. This can help ensure you don’t risk any future commercial potential for social, environmental or economic impact.
Once publicly disclosed, the ability to patent or otherwise protect any intellectual property may be compromised. This may limit the opportunities to develop your research as a new product or service, or through a startup company.
You should also consider existing contractual obligations that determine ownership of IP or restrict publication.
What do I need to do?
If you want to protect your IP so you can explore its potential later, speak with your faculty Business Development Manager during manuscript preparation to understand if a patent application should be filed prior to publication. We can work with you to assess whether the IP has patent and translational potential.
Alternatively, you can complete an IP Disclosure yourself. Ideally, this should be done at draft manuscript stage or earlier.
- The same material can be patented and published as long as the provisional patent is lodged first
- Journals are increasingly making publications available online before the publication date
- Grant applications are not considered public disclosures, but the title and abstract may be published online if successful
- Discussions with collaborators or industry with a full confidentiality agreement are not detrimental to subsequent patenting.
Things to consider
In most countries, a creator loses patent rights if the IP is publicly disclosed before filing the first (or ‘priority’) patent application in one country. But in Australia (and the USA), there is a one-year grace period after publication when you can file a patent.
This period has major drawbacks and it means you will lose patent rights (and the ability to protect IP) in many countries that don’t provide a grace period.
Your IP can be made public in ways you may not expect. For example, if you apply for a grant from publicly funded grant providers in Australia, the grant reviewer must maintain confidentiality and not make the details of the application publicly available.
Examples include the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council.
However, reviewers for other funding bodies may not have the same obligations and this might impact patentability. Successful grants or abstracts may be advertised online, so check what information in the grant application could become public.
Steps to protect your IP
Completing an IP disclosure early will avoid any delay of your publication.
You will also fulfil your obligation to the University to disclose any invention, discovery or technology that may have the potential for commercial application.
After receiving your disclosure, the Knowledge and Technology Transfer team will work with you to assess the commercial potential of the IP and, if appropriate, determine how to protect it.
First published on 7 March 2023.
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