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Technology Commercialization Office (TCO)

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Frequently Asked Questions

This page is intended to provide useful reference information for some of the more common issues pertaining to technology transfer, but does not provide definitive answers, as each situation is unique. Please contact our office for additional guidance.

How do I protect my intellectual property/invention?
The first thing that you should do is notify the Technology Commercialization Office. We will explain your rights and responsibilities as a University inventor, including the policy on sharing of royalty income. Download an Invention Disclosure Form.

Will filing an invention disclosure impact my ability to publish?
Not much. Your prerogative to publish scholarly articles is paramount, and the Technology Commercialization Office will work with you to minimize the impact of disclosing your invention. Remember that your sponsored research agreement may have restrictions on publication and that untimely public disclosures can make it impossible to adequately protect your invention.

What is considered a public disclosure of an invention?
Anything that is readily available (a newspaper article, journal article, chalktalk, poster, web abstract) that describes the technology.

Will filing an invention disclosure protect my invention if I then publish?
No. The only thing that protects your invention is filing a patent application at the US Patent Office. Submitting an invention disclosure to our office is a useful step, but our office is not the same as the Patent Office.

Who owns patents at the University of Arkansas?
The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas.

What is the cost to the inventor to obtain a patent?
None. The University covers all patenting costs, in some cases in conjunction with the Research Sponsor or licensee of the technology, if the Patent & Copyright Committee elects to take assignment.

What does a patent cost?
Their costs vary, depending on the technology, the scope of the invention, and even the Patent Office examiners handling the case. Preparing and filing a relatively complex patent application costs $10,000 to $15,000. Subsequent negotiations with the Patent Office may cost another $10,000 (or more). The costs go up if we seek protection in other countries.

What is the life of a patent?
Typically twenty years, if all maintenance fees are paid, from the earliest filing date of a non-provisional utility patent application. Patent terms may be adjusted if the Patent Office takes longer to than normal to allow the patent to issue. Design patents are currently 14 years from the date they issue.

Does the University pursue foreign patents?
Yes, the University will occasionally pursue patents in foreign countries if warranted by commercial opportunities.

Will I get any money if the University succeeds in getting my invention commercialized?
Yes. Under Board Policy 210.1, the University generally shares its revenues with the inventors of the technology.
For most inventions, the inventors receive half of the first $200,000 in net revenues, and 35% thereafter. (Net revenues are defined by this Board Policy, but generally are the revenues received by the University, less the costs of patenting or copyright, licensing, and other costs directly related to commercialization.)

For the plant breeding programs (inventions involving new or improved cultivar development and release for commercial or private cultivation), the inventors receive 35% of the first $200,000 in net revenues and 25% thereafter.

May I license my own invention from the University?
Yes, provided that you can show that a licensing arrangement with you or your company provides the University favorable prospects to commercialize the technology, and subject to University conflict of interest policies.

Does the University have an ownership interest in intellectual property if I am consulting for a third party?  Must such intellectual property be disclosed to the University?  May such intellectual property be assigned by the faculty member to the third party, rather than to the University?
Board Policy 210.1 requires that any invention by a faculty member must be timely disclosed to the University, regardless of whether it occurs at a time that you are not on University appointment, and regardless of any contrary contractual obligations imposed by a third party, unless a specific agreement to the contrary has been negotiated in advance with the University. 

If the University determines that the invention is unrelated to the activities for which the faculty member is employed by the University and it was not made or conceived under circumstances involving University facilities or personnel, then the University will make no claim to such invention.  For example, if an invention arises directly out of consulting activity paid for by the third party and is exclusively based on nonpublic information provided by the third party (rather than on University Research), then the University will not assert an ownership interest in the invention.

What is the meaning of “independent work or permissible consulting activities” in Board Policy 210.1.E.2, regarding assignment of intellectual property rights to third parties?
This phrase relates to inventions and patents (1) that are unrelated to University Research (“independent work”) or (2) to consulting activities which have been specifically disclosed to the University and authorized in writing, including approval of any conflict management plan which may be required (“permissible consulting activities”).  

If I am a student at the University of Arkansas and I invent something, create software, or develop some other scholarly work, must I submit an invention disclosure or university works disclosure?
No. If the intellectual property you develop was solely developed by you or you and other student collaborators, then the invention or work belongs to you. However, if you have a co-inventor or co-developer that is a University of Arkansas faculty or staff member, they must submit an invention disclosure or university works disclosure and must include you as a co-inventor or co-developer. Also, if your work was funded under a sponsored research agreement, there may be contractual obligations that require you to disclose your invention to the University.

If I am not required to submit an invention disclosure or university works disclosure because I am a student or not affiliated with the University, may I choose to submit one voluntarily?
Yes. If you’d like to submit your invention, software, or other scholarly work to be considered for University of Arkansas assignment, you may do so.

If you elect this scenario, we will present your intellectual property to the University of Arkansas Patent & Copyright Committee. If the Committee elects to take assignment, then we will work to commercialize your invention. If we succeed, you will be treated like any other person under Board Policy 210.1, and will receive a share of the net revenues.