It is important that you contact us before your idea or discovery is publicly disclosed, whether through publication or presentation, so that we can ensure it is protected. Protecting an idea or discovery is crucial to commercialisation, as it provides a competitive advantage.
One significant requirement for patent protection is that an invention must be novel. This means that information on the invention should not be publicly available, either in written form or orally, before a patent application is filed. Once a patent application is filed, you can freely present and publish details of the technology.
We have been working with Imperial College London for over 25 years, and we understand the competitive nature of research. This means we won't delay your publication without explicit consent. A good time to contact us is as the draft publication is written, but prior to any external presentation of the concept. If in doubt, please contact a member of our team at the earliest opportunity. It is better for us to become involved at the earliest stages, rather than late in the research process, as this gives us more time to make a thorough assessment of the technology.
However, if we become involved later on, we are able to quickly make a decision about whether or not to protect and file a patent, or provide an opinion on whether your invention can be protected yet.
You should bear in mind that patenting is an expensive process, so we do not file patents on all the research that we deal with, and that sometimes a patent is not necessary - for example, when another form of IP protection is sufficient.