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PATENTING UMI3 UMIC ® UMIP ® WHY THE UNIVERSITY 'PROTECTS' SOME RESEARCH OUTCOMES In this opinion piece, UMI3 Chief Executive Clive Rowland, explains the University's approach to patenting and his thoughts about patent league tables answered. So we need to reduce it to practice as best we can. The information generated in doing so helps to support a set of patent claims. Patents are important stepping stones which help the University take inventions from the campus to the market-place, which in turn generates credit for the University in both reputational and monetary terms. Of course, there are different types of business opportunities. Not all technology companies are dependent upon patents. Lots rely on trade secrets and others copyright. There are many companies that are simply so dynamic and good at being first to market, and constantly coming up with new ideas, products and services, that they simply don't feel the need to place much emphasis on patenting. if others are restricted from copying a good invention, that stimulates competition by forcing competitors to come up with different or improved technology solutions, which is good for consumer choice. might depend upon others' patents. If it looks commercially attractive, you can be sure that you will be challenged on its validity. Soon you can find yourself in a very complicated landscape. Equally, you can find legions of people who will say that patenting is a tactic employed by big corporates to stifle innovation and prevent others' good ideas from ever seeing the light of day! Brunel compared the patent system to a lottery. There is a conventional belief that if you have a patent, then it's a 'home run' and the market has been cornered. But that's naive. Not all patents are equal. Patents also form part of companies' intellectual property strategies and we need to be conscious that they place a value on them. The absence of our having a patent position, or the chance to secure one, often significantly lowers companies' and investors' appetite for many of those propositions that we promote to them. Clearly a company or a venture capital firm won't wish to pay for something if it thinks it can get it for free. So obtaining patent protection or keeping an invention confidential for a reasonable period prior to filing for a patent helps us get into a serious dialogue. Frequently companies won't consider proposals at all when it is a 'raw' invention or idea. There are still just too many questions to be 2 Patents are intended to encourage innovation. Such a monopoly right over an invention reduces the risk that your work will be copied by others, or in theory eliminates that risk, so that you can be more confident in spending time and money in developing your product and getting it to market. Also it's said that Their scope and quality differ tremendously. Some are trivial, some describe incremental steps forward, others are more useful advances, and occasionally there are revolutionary improvements. Even if you have a strong patent specification, using the technology it covers So, we have to be really clear about why we are patenting at the University. We need to be thoughtful about the timing of our priority date filing, and we need to be sure about our commitment to each patent, strive to get to a gold standard for each one, and know how we might realise value from each of them. At the University, patenting is a part of our proof-ofconcept activities. When we see invention proposals and have screened them for novelty and market potential, we set-up programmes of work which seek to generate data and prototypes which can be presented to investors (for spin-outs) and companies (for licences). Recognising the importance of patents to these communities, we file for robust priority patents based upon these data. These patents become part of the package that we sell on to our 'customers' who are positioned at the next stage in the innovation chain. Our role is to put together the best possible offer that will be useful to an established company or a newly registered spin-out.

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