Effective commercialisation often depends on proper protection of intellectual property. Patent protection cannot be obtained for intellectual property that has already been disclosed in any form.

Examples of disclosure include, but are not limited to:

  • Formal/informal discussions with non-Health and Social Care (HSC) staff
  • Talks at meetings where non-HSC staff are present
  • Poster and oral presentations
  • Publications in journals or on the internet
  • Correspondence
  • Information on websites
  • Grant applications
  • Any thesis submitted for a degree or other qualification

Intellectual property offices around the world carry out thorough searches for any references to an invention before a patent may be granted. Competitor companies may carry out their own searches and use any references they identify in order to have a patent revoked. For these reasons, it is important that you keep your ideas confidential until intellectual property rights have been secured.

Should you need to share intellectual property with any other organisation, HSC Innovations can provide advice on confidentiality agreements. Confidentiality agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements or confidential disclosure agreements) are legally binding documents that, when signed, allow one or more parties to discuss their confidential information with other parties. All parties are obliged to keep the information confidential and not disclose it to any third party. A template confidentiality agreement exists for the HSC trusts. Please contact us if you would like us to prepare a confidentiality agreement for you.

Note that once patent protection has been applied for it is usually possible to submit publications.