As Marshall University and colleges
around the country put more emphasis on research, the need for education on
intellectual property increases.
Terry Wright is a member of the law firm
Stites and Harbison in Lexington, Kentucky. The firm represents Marshall in the
area of intellectual property cases for professors. Wright says it’s important
to teach professors and researchers how the process works.
“I think professors have come from a
background where they’ve had a lot of scientific training, but they don’t
necessarily have a lot of legal training or business training, so in that sense
I think it’s good to introduce them to something they haven’t heard before,”
Wright says it’s important not to release
too much information in advance of getting a patent. He explained that the
invention must be useful, new and not obvious. Last week’s seminar gave an
overview on the different kinds of intellectual property such as patents, trademarks
Wright says that, in most intellectual
property agreements between universities and professors, the university will
retain some of the ownership.
“It’s going to depend on each university's IP policy. Most universities are going to have an IP policy that
says if you do work at our universities, in exchange for your employment, we’re
going to take a portion of that patent or we’re going to own that IP, if it
ends up being licensed or something maybe we’ll give a portion of that back,”
Amy Anastasia is the director of the
Technology Transfer Office at Marshall.
Her office works with professors who think they have
something worth patenting. Anastasia says the idea of intellectual property is
new to most universities.
“Patent law changes all the time, there
has been a lot of litigation going on recently, so a lot of universities are in
this transition mode of going from a teaching university over to a research
university so this entire process is really pretty new still and we’re really
trying to get the word out and protect our intellectual property here at the
university, we don’t want information getting out to the public before it’s
time,” Anastasia said.
Anastasia says, in these days of increased
research, Marshall is trying to take the discoveries of its professors to the
“I’m also responsible for creating
business plans and working with the researchers and developing their companies
if they choose to go that route, working with groups and investors and as well
trying to get that initial investment. We really try to take them from the lab
to the market place and how something can be turned into a valuable product,”
The intellectual property seminar also
focused on the patenting process for professors, from going to the technology
transfer office to filing a patent claim through a law office. The seminar also
pointed out the differences between publishing work and getting it patented.
Richard Eggleton is an associate
professor in Pharmacology at Marshall. He says the seminar was very useful because,
with his research, he expects he could be ready to patent some of his
discoveries in the near future.
“I’m a scientist. I know minimal about
the law, so having something like this explained to us in an easy format that
was easy to digest without going too much into legalese makes it very useful
for us because we now know this is what we’ve got to think about; this is where
we are,” Eggleton said.
Eggleton says the seminar did a very
good job of explaining who will be judging his material for patent.
“I’m an expert in my field. What I would
think would be obvious, might not necessarily be obvious to someone else, but
knowing that it’s going to be someone that’s considered to be of average
knowledge in your field makes it a lot easier for me to know that’s not
really obvious whereas this is really obvious. So that gives you some kind of
idea,” Eggleton said.
A future session will help professors go
from having their ideas patented to making them marketable.