Please see below for answers to many commonly asked questions.  

If you have any other questions or need additional information, please don't hesitate to contact Commercialization at UHN.

What is Intellectual Property?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Intellectual property (IP) is defined as "creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce."  Generally, the majority of IP created at UHN pertains to discoveries and inventions, with the remaining being copyrighted works (e.g. software code).

What is technology transfer?

Technology transfer is the term used to describe a formal transfer to another party of IP rights in new discoveries and innovations resulting from scientific research. Research institutions (such as UHN) and universities typically transfer technology through this process. The major steps in this process typically include: (1) disclosing discoveries and innovations to a "Tech Transfer Office" (at UHN, the Commercialization at UHN office, or Commercialization at UHN); (2) protecting the discoveries/innovations (e.g. using patents and copyrights) prior to publication of scientific research; and (3) licensing the IP rights to another party or industrial partner for commercial development.  (Learn more about technology transfer by watching the About Technology Transfer video).

What is considered public disclosure and how does it affect the patentability of inventions?

Public disclosure includes any presentation, abstract, poster, thesis submission to the library, online publication, or any other form of disclosure that is accessible to members of the public. It should be noted that some meetings or conferences publish submitted abstracts several months prior to the actual events, and which may serve as a public disclosure.  Once the essence of an invention is publicly disclosed, potential patent rights may be limited.  Be sure to inform Commercialization at UHN of any anticipated (or prior) public disclosure of your invention, as early as possible.

How can I report an invention?

The invention disclosure process begins with the submission of an Invention Disclosure form to Commercialization at UHN.  More information, including the only submission link, can be found here.  Not sure if you've made a invention?  Contact us to speak with one of our Licensing and Commercialization Professionals, who can answer any questions and guide you through the Invention Disclosure process.

Can I still publish my work if I report an invention to Commercialization at UHN?

Yes.  Please inform Commercialization at UHN at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to the anticipated publication to provide us with adequate time to respond to your invention disclosure.

Is it too late to report an invention if I have already disclosed it?

Not necessarily. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this further, as there may be circumstances under which patent protection can still be obtained.

Should I contact Commercialization at UHN before talking to a company about my invention?

Yes. Confidential Disclosure Agreements (sometimes referred to as Non Disclosure Agreements) should be in place before any discussion of unpublished work takes place. This includes conversations, meetings, presentations, and any form of communication where confidential or proprietary information is exchanged.  Commercialization at UHN can help you put a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) in place in advance of these discussions.

I have an invention that isn't patentable. Should I still contact Commercialization at UHN?

Absolutely.  An innovation does not need to be patented to be licensed. Increasingly, industry is licensing the intangibles around key discoveries, such as knowledge and know-how. Additionally, many inventions such as clinical questionnaires and software do not usually fall under patentability requirements, but can often be successfully licensed to external parties.   

What benefits are there to UHN inventors if commercialization is successful?

Through successful commercialization, inventors see the translation of their discoveries and innovations into services and products that impact patients' lives. Monetary proceeds from commercialization revenue are disbursed equally between the inventor(s) of the intellectual property and UHN. You can read more about the distribution of commercialization revenue in the UHN IP Policy (link available on the UHN network). 

I'm not sure whether to contact Grant and Contract Services (GCS) or Commercialization at UHN for my research agreement. Whom do I go to?

Certain grants and agreements include sophisticated Intellectual Property and commercial terms; GCS (link available on the UHN research network) and Commercialization at UHN work together on these. We've created this helpful diagram to help you identify which office to contact.  When in doubt, please contact Commercialization at UHN.