General FAQs

Technology Transfer

Q: Can I still publish my findings?
Yes, findings can still be published, and disclosure to your OTM does not alter your publication timetable. However, because publishing can affect the ability to obtain a patent, it is best to submit a disclosure prior to publishing or communicating your findings in a public forum.
Q: When should I submit a disclosure?
It is best if inventors submit a disclosure between eight and 12 weeks before publication so that, if necessary, actions can be taken to protect both U.S. and foreign rights. Once publicly disclosed, an invention may not be patentable. To be safe, inform your OTM of any imminent or prior presentations that include the IP.
Q: What is my role in the screening process?
Inventors typically meet with OTM staff to discuss the invention and clarify aspects of the disclosure. Once a decision is made on whether to pursue patenting, the inventor will be contacted to discuss the outcome.
Q: What is my role in patenting?
Inventors and OTM professionals speak with the patent attorney during the patenting process. Also, inventors will need to review drafts of documents, as well as sign assignments and other legal documentation. OTM will guide the inventors during the process.
Q: What is my role in marketing?
Inventors are encouraged to work closely with their technology manager to market their invention. Inventors are often quite involved in the early stages of recruiting commercial partners and licensees, as the inventor’s expertise is often critically important. This involvement includes exchanging information and materials, and sometimes results in further sponsored research (dubbed pre-licensing agreements). Inventors are often involved in crafting the details of such pre-licensing agreements.
Q: What is my role in licensing?
Licensing is the primary function of the OTMs, and inventors will be informed of progress. Inventors often are closely connected to others in their field and may be consulted by their OTM on the business terms of the license.

Further, the inventor’s role in licensing is an extension of their role in marketing since their expertise is often critically important to transfer the technology and related know-how to the licensee. The University license places only nominal obligations on the part of the inventor to assist in the transfer of the licensed technology. When more than minimal time and effort is necessary, the licensee will negotiate a separate consulting arrangement with the inventor.
Q: What effect does a license have on my ability to do research?
You can still continue research using a licensed invention, even if it is exclusively licensed. The University will always retain the right to use licensed inventions in academic research and teaching.
Q: What if an industry partner funded my research and invention?
Your OTM will review the terms of the contract, send a copy of the disclosure to the company, determine the company’s interest, and take action based on the company’s decision.

Start-Up

Q: What is a start-up company?
A start-up company is a new business entity created to market a specific invention. It is an alternative to licensing an invention to another already existing company.
Q: What role does the inventor play in the start-up company?
The inventor usually serves as a consultant or adviser to the new company. That role may change as the company develops. However, much more time is required early in the process of establishing the company.
Q: What support does the University provide to start-ups?
The University provides resources and services that make start-up formation easier, such as IllinoisVENTURES and incubation facilities.

University licenses to start-ups are structured so as not to overburden the company financially during the first years.

Federal Agencies participating in STTR

Q: What is the minimum percentage of research that can be conducted by the small firm and institution receiving an STTR award?
Small business must perform at least 40 percent of the work, and research institutions must perform at least 30 percent.
Q: When are the proposal deadlines?
Information on solicitations and proposal deadlines can be found at http://www.zyn.com/sbir/

Open Source

Q: What is the Open Source?
In the software community, Open Source is a forum in which multiple unaffiliated parties have access to the source code of a software program for the purposes of collaborative development. People who participate in the Open Source believe that more scrutiny brings greater reliability and that software is an evolving entity that can achieve its fullest potential without the restrictions of commercial sale.
Q: What’s my role in open source licensing?
As with decisions for publication, the faculty or head of the research program makes the recommendation for open source dissemination. Often, the decision to release code into the open source is made early in the software development process: as a condition of the funding, as a requirement of participation in the software community, or as a consequence of incorporating third party code that requires placement in the open source.

When software is placed in the Open Source, it is usually through the University of Illinois or NCSA Open Source License. This license places minimal restrictions on use, thereby maximizing flexibility of use and dissemination. The University of Illinois license can be viewed at http://www.opensource/licenses/ UoI-NCSA.php.