Scientific investigations will lead to the development of novel biological, biochemical, or computational tools and methods for solving biomedical or toxicological problems. These novel methods and tools (or inventions) are considered Intellectual Property (IP).
IP, like other types of property can be protected. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the most common forms of IP protection to protect inventions and creative works. NIEHS relies on patents as its primary form of IP protection for inventions and discoveries originating from scientists. A patent grants property rights of an invention to its owner(s). Particularly, a patent issued for an invention grants its owner(s) the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing the invention into the country where the patent was issued.
IP protection supports the NIEHS mission because it allows us to move our technology to the private sector for further development and commercialization. Effective IP policy and practice are the bridge that connects laboratory bench discoveries to the marketplace.
Generally, a patentable discovery or invention, must be something new, not obvious, and unique. Title 35 of the United States Code, section 101 (35 U.S.C. § 101) states that, “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.” Reportable inventions can include therapeutics, diagnostics, devices, and software. Reportable inventions also include unique biological materials with commercial applications such as transgenic mice, cell lines, purified molecules, expression vectors, or antibodies.
NIEHS scientists should report their inventions to the OTT by submitting an Employee Invention Report (EIR). Submitting your EIR commences the Technology Commercialization Process.