After receiving an invention disclosure, we set out to investigate whether the research underlying the invention constitutes open or contractual research. The rights to an invention made through open research belong to the researcher, while those of an invention made through contractual research belong to the University. In the case of contractual research, we also explore what contractual commitments are potentially involved in the ownership of the research results and how interesting the invention is from a commercial standpoint.
Assessing commercial interest in the invention is important, as this assessment provides the basis for deciding whether to protect and modify the invention to meet market needs. If the rights to the invention belong to the University and it decides to retain those rights, the University must inform the inventor of this within six months of receiving an approved invention disclosure.
In retaining the rights to the invention, the University bears the responsibility for commercialising the invention and pays the costs of protecting it. From the researcher’s perspective, this is an ideal situation because he or she can participate in the further development of the invention and in related research without shouldering the costs. In such cases, 35% of the net proceeds from the invention resulting from its commercialisation automatically go to the researchers.
THE RIGHTS CAN BE ASSIGNED TO THE UNIVERSITY
Researchers who hold the intellectual property rights to an invention under the Act on the Right to Inventions Made at Higher Education Institutions can choose to assign those rights to the University. This is often advantageous to individual researchers because commercialisation and its preparation require resources that few have.
If the University decides to accept the rights offered to it, the University will pay the cost of preparations for commercialisation as well as the commercialisation itself. Again, the researchers are entitled to 35% of the net proceeds from commercialising the invention. In addition, the researcher benefits from the University bearing the financial risk for preparing the commercialisation.
COMMERICIALICING AND PROTECTING AN INVENTION
Despite their commercial potential, innovations created through research are usually no more than observations that require extensive further development before becoming commercially viable. This commercialisation process involves examining the invention from several perspectives, which may open up unexpected opportunities for application.
A patent provides exclusive rights to a new technology, which is a prerequisite for selling or licensing an invention. Not all ideas can be patented, however. Business ideas, teaching methods, games and computer software, for example, must be protected differently.
If your invention proves to be commercially valuable, it should be protected so as to prevent copying and to derive financial benefit. Our staff are familiar with the different stages of the commercialisation process and are happy to help you protect your idea or advise you on licensing issues.
COMMERCIALISATION OF SOFTWARE
Software cannot usually be patented in Finland, but it can be protected under copyright. Even so, the solution or method that the software implements may be patentable.
The software commercialized path generally progresses faster than other areas of technology, as the prototype often develops in parallel with the investigation. Consequently, copyright issues should be established at an early stage of development. If several persons have participated in developing software, it is important to ensure that copyrights are appropriately shared.
COMMERCIALISATION OF COMPETENCE IN THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
Innovations related to health care, education and learning can be protected by converting the knowledge or competence into an easily distributable format. Such packaging can be compared to a TV format, in which a recognisable concept and brand are created for a product. The format can be a game or a mobile application, for example. In such cases, the product or its parts can be protected under trademark and copyright, which prohibits copying and brings commercial benefit to its developer.