November 2005, Issue 5

Medford/Somerville Campus IP Seminar: Protecting
Early-Stage Discoveries

In a seminar on intellectual property sponsored by the Tufts Office for Technology Licensing & Industry Collaboration (OTL&IC), Anne Collins and Sandra Brockman-Lee of Hamilton, Brook, Smith and Reynolds offered advice on how to protect the patentability of early-stage discoveries without impeding research, collaboration, or the dissemination of data. They advised that the best way to protect a discovery is to submit an Invention Disclosure Form to the OTL&IC prior to any public disclosure, even a talk or a poster. They also advised researchers to inform the OTL&IC of any pending dates of public disclosure to ensure that the filing date of the patent application precedes the earliest public disclosure date. Dates to tell the OTL&IC about include those for the submission of papers, abstracts, or grant proposals; the presentation of seminars, posters, abstracts, or theses; the forwarding of the discovery to others; and the offering of the discovery for sale or license. The OTL&IC will work closely with patent counsel to ensure that potentially patentable discoveries are protected by patent applications filed in advance of public disclosure.

Collins and Brockman-Lee also offered advice on how to maintain good laboratory notebooks that can help establish your right to the earliest conception of an invention. When making entries in your notebook, consider the possible audience for the notebook ― the judges and juries who will scrutinize your notes if you ever have to defend your right to a discovery. The lawyers suggest that laboratory notebooks be hardbound; contain complete information, including ideas, names, and dates; be written in permanent ink; and be signed and witnessed.

For more information, go to the OTL&IC website at


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