Let’s work through the University of Connecticut’s intellectual property practice on disclosure and ownership of inventions. We will start in the middle, with a disclosure form–much like a university inventor might do.
UConn has an “Innovation Alert” web “portal” that can be used for “pre-disclosure”:
Inventors are invited to disclose before they disclose. Something about this smacks of a failure of language. One might think that this “pre-disclosure” starts the 60-day clock ticking for UConn to report a pre-disclosed invention to a federal research sponsor. I expect the university administrators who chucked up this idea will argue that this cannot be an invention disclosure because it has “pre-” right there in its name. They fail to understand that an instrument is what it does, not how it is labeled.
What is to be pre-disclosed is variously called a “big idea,” “new idea,” an “innovation,” or an “invention.” Apparently in pre-disclosure, UConn administrators cannot focus on any one thing. “Big idea” is cartoonish condescension; “new idea” is nonsense, because ideas don’t have much to do with invention, and the focus is invention not, say, business ideas in general; “innovation” is pretentious because innovation is something adopted by a group as new, a change in the established order as it were, not merely something new in one’s head or lab; and “invention” is the putative target of an “invention” disclosure form–but the “Innovation Alert” portal makes a hash out of that by inviting disclosures of stuff that isn’t inventive (in the patentable sense).
The actual focus of the disclosure should be a patentable invention–one that’s new, useful, and not obvious. How difficult is that to communicate? Furthermore, the university’s scope of claim to ownership is restricted (we will get to this later), but here the offer is to evaluate any “big idea, new idea, innovation, invention” regardless of the university’s ownership position. Big-hearted, if true. Continue reading