The Intellectual Property (IP) of new ideas, inventions and software can be protected by means of the intellectual property law. This is the law that prohibits others to exploit protected knowledge commercially, unless the owner, the university, has given permission. Protecting intellectual property is an instrument of the valorisation of knowledge which, besides education and research, is one of the three core activities of the TU Delft.
Intellectual property includes all developed and to be developed, knowledge, know-how, generated results, inventions (patent law), publications (copyright), drawings and models, designs and software. The IP that was developed within the TU Delft remains property of the university. (see the Patent Act 1995, in Dutch only)
Intellectual property includes all developed and to be developed, knowledge, know-how, generated results, inventions, publications, drawings and models, designs and software
Patent law protects an invention by the fact that the owner is entitled to prohibit others to use or develop a process or product by either selling, renting, or any other form of trade. Patents give owners the chance to invest in the development of the invention and make it profitable.
To receive a patent, the invention, product or process must meet three requirements:
> Novelty: when a patent request is filed, an invention must not be known to the public. It has not been shared with anyone, not even by the inventor. A presentation about the invention to third parties is an example of a breach of novelty.
> Inventiveness: the invention must be an inventive solution to a problem, and must not be obvious to an expert. Example: instead of gluing two boards together, they may be screwed as part of a new solution. A novelty to some, this solution is too obvious for a craftsman.
> Industrial applicability: the invention must involve a demonstrably functioning technical product or process, it must have industrial applicability meaning that it can be made. A patent can be filed for a new kind of game card that is for example easier to hold, but it cannot be filed for an idea for a new card game.
Copyright protects works of literature, science or art, including software. Copyright helps the author to protect his work against misuse by others. The creator decides how, where and when his work is made public or multiplied. Copyright arises automatically when something is created, a registration is not required. The maker may however transfer a copyright to a third party. The restrictions in copyrights are regulated by law. A creation is only protected by copyright when it has a distinguished character. A plain idea may for example not be protected, but a detailed plan is usually covered.
A copyright or patent doesn’t always automatically belong to the inventor. Copyrights for example belong to the ones under whose supervision the work came about. This is also why all IP derived from the work of employees of the TU Delft belongs to the university, including copyright. The inventor however remains the holder of so called personal rights.
IP that arises from work commissioned by third parties usually belongs to the third party, as will be set out in an agreement or contract most of the time. Separate rules apply for subsidized or paid research projects, which are often reflected in the terms and conditions that apply to the specific project. Intellectual property rights may be transferred to third parties by the owner even before an invention is realized, for example in a consortium agreement.
Staff and students of the TU Delft can secure IP via the TU Delft Valorisation Centre. First, a request needs to be filed digitally by filling in the Invention Disclosure Form (eIDF) via de inventor portal. Inventions by third parties or software can also be patented via the Valorisation Centre.
Afterwards a meeting will be planned to discuss the desirability of the patent and the technical details. Based on the eIDF and a personal interview with the inventor, an assessment will be made on the patentability of the invention. If an invention can be patented an application will be submitted. From the date the request is filed, an applicant will have 12 months ‘advantage’ time to request the patent in other countries as well. This is also the date from which the protection of the invention takes effect.
European countries work together on the basis of the European Patent Convention and around the world, there is a cooperation between countries on the basis of the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In this phase the application is an initial assessment rather than on the three requirements; novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability.
Within the first year of application of a patent an international novelty report may be requested. In this, the novelty of the application will be evaluated as well as the possibility of rewriting the claims. The TU Delft requests novelty reports for all cases, and insight has to be given on the countries in which the patent will be continued after granting within 12 months. The choice of countries determines further procedures. European countries for example work together on the basis of the European Patent Convention and there is international consensus via the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
No later than 30 months after the application date, the countries in which a patent will be continued after granting must be chosen. After this date the amount of countries may only be reduced. The final assessment takes place after the determination of countries. The granting of patents is determined separately by each country and is usually awarded within 4-6 years. The Valorisation Centre manages the portfolio of intellectual property of the Delft University of technology. New patents are assesed on possibilities of commercial exploitation as soon as possible.