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01 November 2005

Intellectual Property 101

George B. Stefano, J. Patrick Finn III

Med Sci Monit 2005; 11(11): ED7-7 :: ID: 430274


Sometimes what we don’t know really can hurt us. After many discussions with colleagues around the world, Medical Science Monitor will start to carry information, which may help us realize the significance of intellectual property and how we may protect it. This information, which is general in nature given our global audience, may vary in its interpretation and implementation, depending on your country. However, it will cause us all to think about the signifi cance of what we are doing in advancing knowledge by being creative.
Regardless of what country you are in, there is a mechanism to protect intellectual property. In general, intellectual property can be defi ned as any useful technology, e.g., a drug or treatment protocol that you invented that is novel and not obvious. Note, a potential inventor should keep information relating to the intellectual property confi dential since making it public can result in a loss of potential intellectual property rights. This means that in order to protect your intellectual property you should avoid disclosing it to others both orally and in writing before it is protected. The exceptions to this rule are that you may discuss it with your employer (e.g., a university/ company/hospital offi cial), any co-inventors, and your or your employer’s lawyer. It is important to remember that any public disclosure without, for example, fi ling a patent application can result in giving away the technology.
If you plan to discuss this technology with an interested party, a confi dentiality agreement should
be in place whereby the party agrees not to use your technology except for purposes of evaluation and agrees to keep it confi dential. One major consideration regarding new intellectual property is whether the technology is important. Does it have the potential to generate revenue for its owners or provide signifi cant help to others? Many technologies are patentable (e.g., novel and non-obvious), but few generate a revenue stream. It is important to have discussions with experts that can help you make this determination. In some cases, individuals can lose the ability to obtain protection by publishing their work without even realizing that their publication discloses new intellectual property that may have monetary advantages. In other words, an individual may lose the ability to obtain patent protection simply by not communicating the technology to the appropriate experts.To help provide researchers and clinicians with valuable intellectual property information, Index Copernicus can be used to determine what types of intellectual properties exist, e.g., patents. Index Copernicus also can be used to find legal mechanisms for obtaining protection and experts who may assist in rendering legal advice regarding your technology. If you don’t know what you have – you don’t have it. Dr. Stefano is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Research Foundation of the State University of New York and member of the State University of New York Patent Committee. J. Patrick Finn III, Ph.D, J.D. is a patent attorney at Fish & Richardson, P.C. and contributed to this article. One focus of his practice is obtaining world-wide patent protection for universities as well as biotech and medical device clients.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Information Services, Biotechnology, Patents as Topic

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750