Maintaining a lab notebook, timely reporting of inventions and software, and avoiding premature public disclosure of your inventions are all essential to meeting your obligations as a Berkeley Lab employee or guest.
Keep a Lab Notebook:
Keep a record of your research by regularly using a lab notebook. This can prove critical for the protection of your intellectual property. Lab notebook guidelines:
- Use ink, not pencil, on consecutive pages in a bound notebook having numbered pages
- Date entries, identify subject matter, and explain relevant formulas and graphics
- Don’t alter entries — make a new entry rather than erasing
- Periodically have someone look over your entries and witness by adding their signature and date adjacent to the phrase, “Read and understood by,” at the bottom of each page, especially for initial descriptions of inventions
Report Your Invention/Software/Tangible Research Products:
If you believe that you have invented something that is unique and may be commercially useful, or developed computer software that you wish to distribute outside the Lab, submit a Record of Invention (ROI) or Software Disclosure and Abstract Form to the Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Management Department. If a manuscript is available that describes the invention or the software, please attach it to the form. Occasionally, computer software is an embodiment of an invention. If you believe that your software is an embodiment of an invention, submit a Record of Invention form. Tangible research products that are commercially valuable should be disclosed on a Record of Invention form. Once your ROI has been reviewed by the Innovation and Partnerships Office, a staff member will contact you and a decision will be made as to whether or not a patent application will be filed. Simply submitting a ROI does not protect intellectual property rights.
Protect Your Intellectual Property:
In order to protect worldwide patent rights, do not make any public disclosures – written, electronic, or oral descriptions of the invention to any non-LBNL employees before a patent application is filed. Contact the Patent Group at x7058 for advice before you publish or present.
Publication and pursuing a patent are fully compatible if the inventor submits a Record of Invention (ROI) with adequate time for Tech Transfer Department’s review and action prior to the publication.
If you need to discuss your invention with non-Lab personnel before a patent application is filed, a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) may be required. As of January 25, 2016, all NDA requests must be made online. Go to the Innovation Portal to start the process.